Marguerite Wilkinson: Songs of an Empty House

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."