16+ Best Ella Wheeler Wilcox Poems Everyone Absolutely Must Read

Ella Wheeler Wilcox was an American author and poet. Her works include Poems of Passion and Solitude, which contains the lines “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.” Her autobiography, The Worlds and I, was published in 1918, a year before her death.

If you’re searching for famous poems ever that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of best known Kabir poems, most famous Banjo Paterson poems, and selected Simon Armitage poems.

Famous Ella Wheeler Wilcox Poems

Flowers of France

Flowers of France in the Spring,
Your growth is a beautiful thing;
But give us your fragrance and bloom,
Yea, give us your lives in truth,
Give us your sweetness and grace
To brighten the resting-place
Of the flower of manhood and youth,
Gone into the dust of the tomb.

This is the vast stupendous hour of Time,
When nothing counts but sacrifice and faith,
Service and self-forgetfulness. Sublime
And awful are these moments charged with death
And red with slaughter. Yet God’s purpose thrives
In all this holocaust of human lives.

I say God’s purpose thrives. Just in the measure
That men have flung away their lust for gain,
Stopped in their mad pursuit of worldly pleasure,
And boldly faced unprecedented pain
And dangers, without thinking of the cost,
So thrives God’s purpose in the holocaust.

Death is a little thing: all men must die;
But when ideals die, God grieves in Heaven.
Therefore I think it was the reason why
This Armageddon to the world was given.
The Soul of man, forgetful of its birth,
Was losing sight of everything but earth.

Up from these many million graves shall spring
A shining harvest for the coming race.
An Army of Invisibles shall bring
A glorified lost faith back to its place.
And men shall know there is a higher goal
Than earthly triumphs for the human soul.

They are not dead-they are not dead, I say,
These men whose mortal forms are in the sod.
A grand Advance-Guard marching on its way,
Their Souls move upwards to salute their God!
While to their comrades who are in the strife
They cry, ‘Fight on! Death is the dawn of life.’

We had forgotten all the depth and beauty
And lofty purport of that old true word
Deplaced by pleasure-that old good word duty.
Now by its meaning is the whole world stirred.
These men died for it; for it, now, we give,
And sacrifice, and serve, and toil, and live.

From out our hearts had gone a high devotion
For anything. It took a mighty wrath
Against great evil to wake strong emotion,
And put us back upon the righteous path.
It took a mingled stream of tears and blood
To cut the channel through to Brotherhood.

That word meant nothing on our lips in peace:
We had despoiled it by our castes and classes.
But when this savage carnage finds surcease
A new ideal will unite the masses.
And there shall be True Brotherhood with men-
The Christly Spirit stirring earth again.

For this our men have suffered, fought, and died.
And we who can but dimly see the end
Are guarded by their spirits glorified,
Who help us on our way, while they ascend.
They are not dead-they are not dead, I say,
These men whose graves we decorate to-day.

America and France walk hand in hand;
As one, their hearts beat through the coming years:
One is the aim and purpose of each land,
Baptised with holy water of their tears.
To-day they worship with one faith, and know
Grief’s first Communion in God’s House of Woe.

Great Liberty, the Goddess at our gates,
And great Jeanne d’Arc, are fused into one soul:
A host of Angels on that soul awaits
To lead it up to triumph at the goal.
Along the path of Victory they tread,
Moves the majestic cort�ge of our dead.

Flowers of France in the Spring,
Your growth is a beautiful thing;
But give us your fragrance and bloom-
Yea, give us your lives in truth,
Give us your sweetness and grace
To brighten the resting-place
Of the flower of manhood and youth,
Gone into the dust of the tomb.


Day’s sweetest moments are at dawn;
Refreshed by his long sleep, the Light
Kisses the languid lips of Night,
Ere she can rise and hasten on.
All glowing from his dreamless rest
He holds her closely to his breast,
Warm lip to lip and limb to limb,
Until she dies for love of him.

They Shall Not Win

Whatever the strength of our foes is now,
Whatever it may have been,
This is our slogan, and this our vow-
They shall not win, they shall not win.

Though out of the darkness they call the aid
Of the evil forces of Sin,
We utter our slogan unafraid-
They shall not win, they shall not win.

We know we are right, and know they are wrong.
So to God above and within-
We make our vow and we sing our song
They shall not win, they shall not win.

It rises over the shriek of shell,
And over the cannons’ din:
Our slogan shall scatter the hosts of Hell-
They shall not win, they shall not win.

Theory And Practice

The man of God stands, on the Sabbath-day,
Warning the sinners from the broad highway
That leads to death. He rolls his pious eye,
And tells how wily demons hidden lie
To spring upon the thoughtless souls who pass
Along. He lifts his hands, and cries, ‘Alas!
That such things be! O sinners! pause;
Gird on God’s armor; let the devil see
Thou hast espoused a high and holy cause,
And all his arts are powerless on thee.’

‘Tis thus the man of God in warning cries,
And tears of heart-felt sorrow fill his eyes;
And then he doffs his surplice and his gown,
And calls for wine to wash his sorrow down.
Ah! follower of the meek and lowly One,
And is it thus that thou wouldst have men shun
The road to death? Is this the better way,
Of which thou tellest on the Sabbath-day?
This wine you sip to quench your pious thirst,
Of all the devil’s arts, he reckons first.
And countless legions go down to the dead,
Slain soul and body by the demon red.
Is this the holy principle you teach?
Or shall men practise, while you only preach?

The righteous churchman reads a tale of strife,
One of those countless tragedies of city life;
He sighs, and shakes his head, and sighs again,
And thanks his God he’s not as other men.
And then he sips his glass of ale or rum,
And wonders if the time shall ever come
When such things cease to be. I answer, ‘When
You who bear the names of Christian men
Shall with your wines, and ales, and beers dispense,
And choose the motto, ‘Total Abstinence.”

The politician sighs at the nation’s debt,
And groans at his heavy tax. And yet
He calls his jolly friends from near and far,
And does not sigh or groan before the bar,
But ‘treats’ them with a free and lavish hand,
Thus swelling the liquor tax upon the land.
And so the world goes; and will always go
As long as fools live. And their lives are long,
As all may see who look around, and so
I’ll let it waggle on, and cease my song,
Hoping ‘gainst hope, that some poor struggling ray
Of common sense may find its weary way
Into the stupid hearts and brains of those
Who prate of any evil this world knows,
And sip their wines and beer, and say to men,
‘We only drink a little-now and then.’

The Valley Of Fear

In the journey of life, as we travel along
To the mystical goal that is hidden from sight,
You may stumble at times into Roadways of Wrong,
Not seeing the sign-board that points to the right.
Through caverns of sorrow your feet may be led,
Where the noon of the day will like midnight appear.
But no matter whither you wander or tread,
Keep out of the Valley of Fear.

The Roadways of Wrong will wind out into light
If you sit in the silence and ask for a Guide;
In the caverns of sorrow your soul gains its sight
Of beautiful vistas, ascending and wide.
In by-paths of worry and trouble and strife
Full many a bloom grows bedewed by a tear,
But wretched and arid and void of all life
Is the desolate Valley of Fear.

The Valley of Fear is a maddening maze
Of paths that wind on without exit or end,
From nowhere to nowhere lead all of its ways,
And shadows with shadows in more shadows blend.
Each guide-post is lettered, ‘This way to Despair,’
And the River of Death in the darkness flows near,
But there is a beautiful Roadway of Prayer
This side of the Valley of Fear.

This beautiful Roadway is narrow and steep,
And it runs up the side of the Mountain of Faith.
You may not perceive it at first if you weep,
But it rises high over the River of Death.
Though the Roadway is narrow and dark at the base,
It widens ascending, and ever grows clear,
Till it shines at the top with the Light of God’s face,
Far, far from the Valley of Fear.

When close to that Valley your footsteps shall fare,
Turn, turn to the Roadway of Prayer-
The beautiful Roadway of Prayer.

The Two Armies

Once over the ocean in distant lands,
In an age long past, were two hostile bands-
Two armies of men, both brave, both strong,
And their hearts beat high as they marched along
To fight the battle of right and wrong.

Never, I think, did the Eye of heaven
Look down on two armies so nearly even
In well-trained soldiers, in strength and might.
But one was the
, and one was the
And the last was the stronger in heaven’s sight.
And these hostile armies drew near, one night,
And pitched their tents on two hill-sides green,
With only the brow of a hill between.

With the first red beams of the morning light
Both knew would open the awful fight,
And one of the armies lay hushed and still,
And slept in the tents on the green side-hill.
Heart beat with heart: and they all were as one
In the thought of the battle to be begun
With the first bright glance of the morning sun.
Their aim was ignoble, their cause was wrong,
But they were
, and so they were strong.

Not so the army just over the hill:
While the ranks of the foe were hushed and still,
The ranks of the
were torn with strife,
And with noise and confusion the air was rife.
Disputes and quarrels, dissensions and jars,
And the sound of fighting, and civil wars;
And, ere the morning, brother and brother,
Instead of the enemy, fought with each other.

Over the hill, the foe, in glee,
Listened and laughed. ‘Ho ho!’ quoth he.
‘There is strife in the enemy’s ranks, I see,
And the bright red beams of the rising sun
Will see a victory easily won.
It matters little how strong the foe,
This is a truth we all do know:

There is no success without unity,

However noble the cause may be.
The day is ours before it’s begun.
Ho! for the triumph so easily won.’

And on the morrow, the ranks of the Right
Were routed and beaten, and put to flight,
And the Wrong was the victor, and gained the fight.

There are two armies abroad to-day,
As in the age that has passed away.
The makers, and venders, and patrons, and all
Who aid in the traffic of Alcohol,
These are the warriors, bold and strong,
Who swell the ranks of the army of Wrong.
And we are the soldiers, true and brave,
Who are striving with heart and hand to save
The youths of our land from the deep, dark grave
That the foe is digging by day and by night.
one thing
can defeat the Right.
There is nothing but triumph for us, unless

, that crafty foe to success,
Creeps into our ranks. Oh! let us
Let heart beat with heart as we enter the fight;
Let the whole mighty army be
for the time,
And sweep on the foe in a column sublime
In its unity, earnestness, oneness, and might,
Till the foe stands aghast at the wonderful sight,
Till the enemy cowers and shivers, afraid
Of the awful approach of the grand cavalcade.
Close up the ranks, brothers! sisters, draw near,
We are fighting one fight, we are all kinsmen here.
Closer, still closer! in nearness lies might.
Love is our watchword-on to the fight!

The Swan Of Dijon

I was in Dijon when the war’s wild blast
Was at its loudest; when there was no sound
From dawn to dawn, save soldiers marching past,
Or rattle of their wagons in the street.
When every engine whistle would repeat
Persistently, with meaning tense, profound,
‘We carry men to slaughter’ or ‘we bring
Remnants of men back as war’s offering.’

And there in Dijon, the out-gazing eye
Grew weary of the strife-suggesting scene;
But, searching, found one quiet spot hard by
Where war was not; a little lake whereon
Moved leisurely a stately, tranquil swan,
Majestic and imposing, yet serene.

I was in Dijon, when no sound or sight
Woke thoughts of peace, save this one speck of white,
Sailing ‘neath skies of menace, unafraid
While silver fountains for his pleasure played.
Dear Swan of Dijon, it was your good part
To rest a tired heart.

The Spirit Of Great Joan

Back of each soldier who fights for France,
Aye, back of each woman and man
Who toils and prays through these long tense days.
Is the spirit of Great Joan.
For the love she gave, and the life she gave,
In the eyes of God sufficed
To crown her with light, and power, and might,
That made her second to Christ.

And so in that hour at the Marne she came,
To the seeing eyes of men;
And the blind of view still felt and knew
That her spirit had come again.
And she will come in each crucial hour
And joy shall follow despair,
For Joan sees her France on its knees
And she hears the voice of its prayer.

There is no hate in the heart of France,
But a mighty moral force
That takes its stand for her worshipped land,
And cannot be swerved from its course.
For this is the way with France to-day,
Her courage comes from faith,
And she bends her knee ere she straightens her arm;
In her forward rush toward death.

A jungle of beasts in the heart of the Hun-
War to the world laid bare.
And war has revealed, that France concealed,
Only the lion’s lair.
A lioness fighting to save her own,
She fights as a lioness can,
And strength to the end shall the Unseen send,
In the spirit of Great Joan.

The Lodge-Room

Don’t bring into the lodge-room
Anger, and spite, and pride.
Drop at the gate of the temple
The strife of the world outside.
Forget all your cares and trials,
Forget every selfish sorrow,
And remember the cause you meet for,
And haste ye the glad to-morrow.

Drop at the gate of the temple
Envy, and spite, and gloom.
Don’t bring personal quarrels
And discord into the room.
Forget the slights of a sister,
Forget the wrongs of a brother,
And remember the new commandment,
That ye all love one another.

Bring your heart into the lodge-room,
But leave yourself outside,
That is, your personal feelings,
Ambition, vanity, pride.
Centre each thought and power
On the cause for which you assemble,
Fetter the demon liquor,
And make ye the traffic tremble.

Ay! to fetter and to chain him,
And cast him under our feet,
This is the end we aim at,
The object for which we meet.
Then don’t bring into the lodge-room,
Envy, or strife, or pride,
Or aught that will mar our union,
But leave them all outside.

The Lady And The Dame

So thou hast the art, good dame, thou swearest,
To keep Time’s perishing touch at bay
From the roseate splendor of the cheek so tender,
And the silver threads from the gold away;
And the tell-tale years that have hurried by us
Shall tiptoe back, and, with kind good-will,
They shall take their traces from off our faces,
If we will trust to thy magic skill.

Thou speakest fairly; but if I listen
And buy thy secret and prove its truth,
Hast thou the potion and magic lotion
To give me also the heart of youth?
With the cheek of rose and the eye of beauty,
And the lustrous locks of life’s lost prime,
Wilt thou bring thronging each hope and longing
That made the glory of that dead Time?

When the sap in the trees sets young buds bursting,
And the song of the birds fills the air like spray,
Will rivers of feeling come once more stealing
From the beautiful hills of the far-away?
Wilt thou demolish the tower of reason
And fling forever down into the dust,
The caution time brought me, the lessons life taught me,
And put in their places my old sweet trust?

If Time’s footprint from my brow is driven,
Canst thou, too, take with thy subtle powers
The burden of thinking, and let me go drinking
The careless pleasures of youth’s bright hours?
If silver threads from my tresses vanish,
If a glow once more in my pale cheek gleams,
Wilt thou slay duty and give back the beauty
Of days untroubled by aught but dreams?

When the soft, fair arms of the siren Summer
Encircle the earth in their languorous fold,
Will vast, deep oceans of sweet emotions
Surge through my veins as they surged of old?
Canst thou bring back from a day long vanished
The leaping pulse and the boundless aim?
I will pay thee double for all thy trouble,
If thou wilt restore all these, good dame.

The Coquette

Alone she sat with her accusing heart,

That, like a restless comrade frightened sleep,

And every thought that found her, left a dart

That hurt her so, she could not even weep.

Her heart that once had been a cup well filled

With love’s red wine, save for some drops of gall

She knew was empty; though it had not spilled

Its sweets for one, but wasted them on all.

She stood upon the grave of her dead truth,

And saw her soul’s bright armor red with rust,

And knew that all the riches of her youth

Were Dead Sea apples, crumbling into dust.

Love that had turned to bitter, biting scorn,

Hearthstones despoiled, and homes made desolate,

Made her cry out that she was ever born,

To loathe her beauty and to curse her fate

The Camp Fire

When night hung low and dew fell damp,
There fell athwart the shadows
The gleaming watchfires of the camp,
Like glow-worms on the meadows.
The sentinel his measured beat
With measured tread was keeping,
While like bronze statues at his feet
Lay tired soldiers, sleeping.

On some worn faces of the men
There crept a homesick yearning,
Which made it almost seem again,
The child-look was returning.
While on full many a youthful brow,
Till now to care a stranger,
The premature grave lines told how
They had grown old through danger.

One, in his slumber, laughed with joy,
The laughing echoes mocked him,
He thought beside his baby boy
He sat and gaily rocked him.
O pitying angels! Thou wert kind
To end this brief elysian,
He found what he no more could find
Save in a dreamer’s vision.

The clear note of a mocking bird-
That star of sound-came falling
Down thro’ the night; one, wakeful, heard
And answered to the calling,
And then upon the ear there broke
That sweet, pathetic measure,
That song that wakes-as then it woke,
Such mingled pain and pleasure.

One voice at first, and then the sound
Pulsed like a great bell’s swinging,
‘Tenting to-night on the old camp ground,’
The whole roused camp was singing.
The sense of warfare’s discontent
Gave place to warfare’s glory;
Right merrily the swift hours went
With song, and jest, and story.

They sang the song of Old John Brown,
Whose march goes on forever;
It made them thirsty for renown,
It fired them with endeavor.
So much of that great heart lives still,
So much of that great spirit-
His very name shoots like a thrill
Through all men when they hear it.

They found in tales of march and fight
New courage as they listened,
And while they watched the weird camp-light,
And while the still stars glistened,
Like some stern comrade’s voice, there broke
And swept from hill to valley
‘Til all the sleeping echoes woke,-
The bugle’s call to rally!

‘To arms! to arms! the foe is near!’
Ah, brave hearts were ye equal
To hearing through without one fear
The whole tale’s bloody sequel?
The laurel wreath, the victor’s cry,
These are not all of glory;
The gaping wound, the glazing eye,
They, too, are in the story.

And when again their tents were spread,
And by campfires they slumbered,
The missing faces of the dead
The living ones outnumbered.
And yet, their memories animate
The hearts that still survive them,
And holy seems the task, and great,
For one hour to revive them.

Our Atlas

Not Atlas, with his shoulders bent beneath the weighty world,
Bore such a burden as this man, on whom the Gods have hurled
The evils of old festering lands-yea, hurled them in their might
And left him standing all alone, to set the wrong things right.

It is the way the Fates have done since first Time’s race began!
They open up Pandora’s box before some chosen man;
And then, aloof, they wait and watch, to see if he will find
And wake the slumbering God that dwells in every mortal’s mind.

Erect, our modern Atlas stands, with brave uplifted head,
And there is courage in his eyes, if in his heart be dread.
Not dread of foes, but dread of friends, who may not pull together,
To bring the lurching ship of State safe through the stormy weather.

Oh, never were there wilder waves or more stupendous seas,
Or rougher rocks or bleaker winds, or darker days than these.
Not Washington, not Lincoln knew so grave an hour of Time
As he who now stands face to face with War’s world-shaking crime.

His brain is clear, his soul is brave, his heart is just and right,
He asks no honours of the earth, but favour in God’s sight;
His aim is not to wear a crown or win imperial power,
But to use wisely for the race life’s terrible great hour.

O Liberty, who lights the world with rays that come from God,
Shine on Columbia’s troubled track, and make it bright and broad;
Shine on each heart, and give it strength to meet its pains and losses,
And give supernal strength to one who bears the whole world’s crosses;
Take from his thought the fear of friends who may not pull together,
And bring the glorious ship of State safe through wild waves and weather.

Origin Of The Liquor Dealer

The devil in hell gave a festival,
And he called his imps from their wine-
Called them up from the ruddy cup,
And marshalled them into line.
And each to his place sprang the imps apace,
And they stood there, side by side.
‘Now, listen well, O ye hosts of hell!
And mark me,’ the devil cried.
‘There is work to do for all of you,
Held for this night in store.
Then stir up the fire, till it burneth higher
Than ever it burned before.
When the coals glow hot, set ye the pot
Half full of the best brimstone.
And three of the worst and the most accursed
Hell claimeth as its own
Of demons bring, when the pot shall sing,
And cast them into the boil.’
Then over the region scattered the legion
Away to the fiendish toil.

They work with a will, and they work until
Three imps are aboil in the pot;
And the devil stands, and stirs with his hands
The liquid, seething hot;
And the demons revel around the devil
With many a fiendish shout,
Till he cries ‘Ho, ho!’ and the demons go
And turn the liquid out.

Turn it in, to a lake of gin,
Where the devil bathes, to cool.
Then lift it up, and turn on a cup
Of wine they dip from a pool.
Then they dip it in ale, till it turneth pale,
In beer, till it gloweth red.
It? nay, HE! for the thing they see
Is a man, from heel to head.

And he clasps the hands of the devil who stands
Bowing before his face.
And he says, ‘Dear friend, will you please to send
A lad to show me my place?’

And the devil winks sly: and he says, ‘Ay, ay!’
Old fellow, I guess you’ll do.
You can work more wrong with that oily tongue
Than all my malicious crew.

‘You must go to the earth! In th’ halls of mirth,
In the teeming city’s heart-
In any place that you show your face
I will help you do your part.

I will give you a name-it is steeped in shame,
But the world will use you well.
It is ‘Liquor Dealer.’ It means
soul stealer

And Major-General of Hell.
Go forth, my friend, and work to the end,
I will pay you in gleaming gold;
For every soul you drown in the bowl,
I will give you wealth untold.’

Then forth he went, this fiend hell-sent,
And he doeth his work to-day-
Doeth it well; and the hosts of hell
Are singing his praise alway.

National Anniversay Ode

Ho! for the day in the whole year the brightest!
Long may it live in the heart of the nation!
Long may it be ere the names are forgotten
That boldly were signed to the grand declaration!
Shout, sons of liberty! shout for the one land free
Under the sun!
On this thrice blessèd day its bonds were struck away,
Its thongs undone!

Ho! for our banner, the emblem of freedom!
What can arouse a true hero’s devotion-
What like the Stars and Stripes, floating above us?
Queen of all lands, and the peer of the ocean.
Oh! it is fair to see, oh! it is dear to me,
Flag of the brave!
Time’s wheel shall cease to move, true hearts shall cease to love,
Ere it cease to wave.

But there’s a blemish now staining our banner!
The bright stars are dimmed, and the fair stripes are spotted,
With the tears of the drunkard’s wife, mother, and children,
With hot tears of shame is our flag blurred and blotted.
Victims of tyranny, strike till our land is free
From King Alcohol;
Strike down his whelps of sin, rum, brandy, beer, and gin
Strangle them all.

Up to the contest, and wipe out this blemish!
Columbia’s son, and Columbia’s daughter,
God speed the day when the one ‘Land of Freedom’
Shall add to its title the ‘Land of Cold Water’!
Three cheers for Columbia, and this, her natal day!
God bless the right,
And guard from a traitor’s hand, this our beloved land,
And the Red, Blue, and White!

July 4th, 1871.

Ph. Best & Co.’s Lager-Beer

In every part of the thrifty town,
Whether my course be up or down,
In lane, and alley, and avenue,
Painted in yellow, and red, and blue,
This side and that, east and west,
Was this flaunting sign-board of ‘Ph. Best.’

‘Twas hung high up, and swung in the air
With a swaggering, bold-faced, ‘devil-may-care-
It-is-none-of-your-business’ sort of way;
Or, as if dreading the light o’ the day,
It hung low, over a basement-stair,
And seemed ashamed when you saw it there.

Or it shone like a wicked and evil eye
From a ‘restaurant’ door on passers-by,
And seemed with a twinkling wink to say:
‘Are you bound for hell? Then step this way;
This is the ticket-office of sin;
If you think of purchasing, pray, walk in.’

Or it glared from a window where the light
Of the lamps within shone full and bright,
And seemed to be saying, ‘Come out of the storm!
Come into my haven snug and warm;
I will give you warmth from the flowing bowl,
And all I ask is your purse and soul.’

But whether on window, door, or stair,
Wherever I went, it was always there;
Painted in yellow, and red, and blue,
It stared from alley and avenue:
It was north, and south, and east, and west,
The lager-beer of this Philip Best.

And who was Philip Best, you ask?
Oh! he was a man, whose noble task
Was the brewing of beer-good beer, first-class-
That should sparkle, and bubble, and boil in the glass:
Should sparkle and flow till drank, and then
Feast like a vampire on brains of men.

Ah! Philip Best, you have passed from view,
But your name and your works live after you.
Come, brothers, raise him a monument,
Inscribed, ‘Here lies the man who sent
A million of souls to the depths of hell;
Turned genius and worth to the prison-cell;

Stole bread from the mouth of the hungry child:
Made the father a brute, and the mother wild;
Filled happy homes with dread unrest:
Oh! a very great man was Philip Best.
O Ph. Best! you have passed from view,
But your nameand your deeds live after you.’