Songs of an Empty House

Marguerite Wilkinson


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."