Marguerite Wilkinson

1883-1928 / United States

Songs Of An Empty House


Before I die I may be great,
   The chanting guest of kings,
A queen in wonderlands of song
   Where every blossom sings.
I may put on a golden gown
   And walk in sunny light,
Carrying in my hair the day,
   And in my eyes the night.

It may be men will honor me --
   The wistful ones and wise,
Who know the ruth of victory,
   The joy of sacrifice.
I may be rich, I may be gay,
   But all the crowns grow old --
The laurel withers and the bay
   And dully rusts the gold.

Before I die I may break bread
   With many queens and kings --
Oh, take the golden gown away,
   For there are other things --
And I shall miss the love of babes
   With flesh of rose and pearl,
The dewy eyes, the budded lips --
   A boy, a little girl.

The End

My father got me strong and straight and slim,
   And I give thanks to him;
My mother bore me glad and sound and sweet, --
   I kiss her feet.

But now, with me, their generation fails,
   And nevermore avails
To cast through me the ancient mould again,
   Such women and men.

I have no son, whose life of flesh and fire
   Sprang from my splendid sire,
No daughter for whose soul my mother's flesh
   Wrought raiment fresh.

Life's venerable rhythms like a flood
   Beat in my brain and blood,
Crying from all the generations past,
   "Is this the last?"

And I make answer to my haughty dead,
   Who made me, heart and head,
"Even the sunbeams falter, flicker and bend --
   I am the end."
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