Top 20 Most Popular Poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox

These are the top twenty (20) most popular poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

From A Baby In The House to A Burial.

If you want to know her greatest poems of all time, then this poetry collection is for you.

Keep reading!

A Baby In The House

I knew that a baby was hid in the house;
Though I saw no cradle and heard no cry,
But the husband went tiptoeing round like a mouse,
And the good wife was humming a soft lullaby;
And there was a look on the face of that mother
That I knew could mean only one thing, and no other.

“The mother,” I said to myself; for I knew
That the woman before me was certainly that,
For there lay in the corner a tiny cloth shoe,
And I saw on the stand such a wee little hat;
And the beard of the husband said plain as could be,
“Two fat, chubby hands have been tugging at me.”

And he took from his pocket a gay picture-book,
And a dog that would bark if you pulled on a string;
And the wife laid them up with such a pleased look;
And I said to myself, “There is no other thing
But a babe that could bring about all this, and so
That one is in hiding here somewhere, I know.”

I stayed but a moment, and saw nothing more,
And heard not a sound, yet I knew I was right;
What else could the shoe mean that lay on the floor,
The book and the toy, and the faces so bright?
And what made the husband as still as a mouse?
I am sure, very sure, there’s a babe in that house.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


A baby went to heaven while it slept,
And, waking, missed its mother’s arms, and wept.
Those angel tear-drops, falling earthward through
God’s azure skies, into the turquoise grew.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Bachelor To A Married Flirt

All that a man can say of woman’s charms,
Mine eyes have spoken and my lips have told
To you a thousand times. Your perfect arms
(A replica from that lost Melos mould),
The fair firm crescents of your bosom (shown
With full intent to make their splendours known),

Your eyes (that mask with innocence their smile),
The (artful) artlessness of all your ways,
Your kiss-provoking mouth, its lure, its guile –
All these have had my fond and frequent praise.
And something more than praise to you I gave –
Something which made you know me as your slave.

Yet slaves, at times, grow mutinous and rebel.
Here in this morning hour, from you apart,
The mood is on me to be frank and tell
The thoughts long hidden deep down in my heart.
These thoughts are bitter – thorny plants, that grew
Below the flowers of praise I plucked for you.

Those flowery praises led you to suppose
You were my benefactor. Well, in truth,
When lovely woman on dull man bestows
Sweet favours of her beauty and her youth,
He is her debtor. I am yours: and yet
You robbed me while you placed me thus in debt.

I owe you for keen moments when you stirred
My senses with your beauty, when your eyes
(Your wanton eyes) belied the prudent word
Your curled lips uttered. You are worldly wise,
And while you like to set men’s hearts on flame,
You take no risks in that old passion-game.

The carnal, common self of dual me
Found pleasure in this danger play of yours.
(An egotist, man always thinks to be
The victor, if his patience but endures,
And holds in leash the hounds of fierce desire,
Until the silly woman’s heart takes fire.)

But now it is the Higher Self who speaks –
The Me of me – the inner Man – the real –
Whoever dreams his dream and ever seeks
To bring to earth his beautiful ideal.
That lifelong dream with all its promised joy
Your soft bedevilments have helped destroy.

Woman, how can I hope for happy life
In days to come at my own nuptial hearth,
When you who bear the honoured name of wife
So lightly hold the dearest gifts of earth?
Descending from your pedestal, alas!
You shake the pedestals of all your class.

A vain, flirtatious wife is like a thief
Who breaks into the temple of men’s souls,
And steals the golden vessels of belief,
The swinging censers, and the incense bowls.
All women seem less loyal and less true,
Less worthy of men’s faith since I met you.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

England, Awake!

A beautiful great lady, past her prime,
Behold her dreaming in her easy chair;
Gray robed, and veiled; in laces old and rare,
Her smiling eyes see but the vanished time,
Of splendid prowess, and of deeds sublime.
Self satisfied she sits, all unaware
That peace has flown before encroaching care,
And through her halls stalks hunger, linked with crime.

England, awake! from dreams of what has been,
Look on what IS, and put the past away.
Speak to your sons, until they understand.
England, awake! for dreaming now is sin;
In all your ancient wisdom, rise to-day,
And save the glory of your menaced land.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Ballade Of The Unborn Dead

They walked the valley of the dead;
Lit by a weird half light;
No sound they made, no word they said;
And they were pale with fright.
Then suddenly from unseen places came
Loud laughter, that was like a whip of flame.

They looked, and saw, beyond, above,
A land where wronged souls wait;
(Those spirits called to earth by love,
And driven back by hate).
And each one stood in anguish dumb and wild,
As she beheld the phantom of her child.

Yea, saw the soul her wish had hurled
Out into night and death;
Before it reached the Mother world,
Or drew its natal breath.
And terrified, each hid her face and fled
Beyond the presence of her unborn dead.

And God’s Great Angel, who provides
Souls for our mortal land,
Laughed, with the laughter that derides,
At that fast fleeing band
Of self-made barren women of the earth.
(Hell has no curse that withers like such mirth.)

‘O Angel, tell us who were they,
That down below us fared;
Those shapes with faces strained and grey,
And eyes that stared and stared;
Something there was about them, gave us fear;
Yet are we lonely, now they are not here.’

Thus spake the spectral children; thus
The Angel made reply:
‘They have no part or share with us;
They were but passers-by.’
‘But may we pray for them?’ the phantoms plead.
‘Yea, for they need your prayers,’ the Angel said.

They went upon their lonely way;
(Far, far from Paradise);
Their path was lit with one wan ray
From ghostly children’s eyes;
The little children who were never born;
And as they passed, the Angel laughed in scorn.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Book For The King

A book has been made for the King,
A book of beauty and art;
To the good king’s eyes
A smile shall rise
Hiding the ache in his heart –
Hiding the hurt and the grief
As he turns it, leaf by leaf.

A book has been made for the King,
A book of blood and of blight;
To the Great King’s eyes
A look shall rise
That will blast and wither and smite –
Yes, smite with a just God’s rage,
As He turns it, page by page.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Crushed Leaf

An hour ago when the wind blew high
At my lady’s window a red leaf beat.
Then dropped at her door, where, passing by,
She carelessly trod it under her feet.

I have taken it out of the dust and dirt,
With a tender pity but half defined.
Ah! poor bruised leaf, with your stain and hurt,
‘A fellow-feeling doth make us kind.’

On winds of passion my heart was blown,
Like an autumn leaf one hapless day.
At my lady’s window with tap and moan
It burned and fluttered its life away.

Bright with the blood of its wasting tide
It glowed in the sun of her laughing eyes.
What cared she though a stray heart died –
What to her were its sobs and sighs.

The winds of passion were spent at last,
And my heart like the leaf in her pathway lay;
And under her slender foot as she passed,
My lady she trod it and went her way.

So I picked the leaf from its dusty place,
With a tender pity -too well defined.
And I laid it here in this velvet case,
Ah! a fellow-feeling doth make us kind.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Dream

In the night I dreamed that you had died,
And I thought you lay in your winding sheet;
And I kneeled low by your coffin side,
With my cheek on your heart that had ceased to beat.

And I thought as I looked on your form so still,
A terrible woe, and an awful pain,
Fierce as vultures that slay and kill,
Tore at my bosom and maddened my brain.

And then it seemed that the chill of death
Over me there like a mantle fell,
And I knew by my fluttering, failing breath
That the end was near, and all was well.

I woke from my dream in the black midnight –
It was only a dream at worst or best –
But I lay and thought till the dawn of light,
Had the dream been true we had both been blest.

Better to kneel by your still dead form,
With my cheek on your breast, and die that way,
Than to live and battle with night and storm,
And drift away from you day by day.

Better the anguish of death and loss,
The sharp, quick pain, and the darkness, then,
Than living on with this heavy cross
To bear about in the world of men.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hang about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives
And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
Of worry or of trouble.
Farseeing is the soul and wise
Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Dream

That was a curious dream; I thought the three
Great planets that are drawing near the sun
With such unerring certainty begun
To talk together in a mighty glee.
They spoke of vast convulsions which would be
Throughout the solar system – the rare fun
Of watching haughty stars drop, one by one,
And vanish in a seething vapour sea.

I thought I heard them comment on the earth –
That small dark object – doomed beyond a doubt.
They wondered if live creatures moved about
Its tiny surface, deeming it of worth.
And then they laughed – ’twas such a singing shout
That I awoke and joined too in their mirth.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Girl’s Faith

Across the miles that stretch between,
Through days of gloom or glad sunlight,
There shines a face I have not seen
Which yet doth make my world more bright.

He may be near, he may be far,
Or near or far I cannot see,
But faithful as the morning star
He yet shall rise and come to me.

What though fate leads us separate ways,
The world is round, and time is fleet.
A journey of a few brief days,
And face to face we two shall meet.

Shall meet beneath God’s arching skies,
While suns shall blaze, or stars shall gleam,
And looking in each other’s eyes
Shall hold the past but as a dream.

But round and perfect and complete,
Life like a star shall climb the height,
As we two press with willing feet
Together toward the Infinite.

And still behind the space between,
As back of dawns the sunbeams play,
There shines the face I have not seen,
Whose smile shall wake my world to-day.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Thanksgiving for the strong armed day,
That lifted war’s red curse,
When Peace, that lordly little word,
Was uttered in a voice that stirred –
Yea, shook the Universe.

Thanksgiving for the Mighty Hour
That brimmed the Victor’s cup,
When England signalled to the foe,
‘The German flag must be brought low
And not again hauled up!’

Thanksgiving for the sea and air
Free from the Devil’s might!
Thanksgiving that the human race
Can lift once more a rev’rent face,
And say, ‘God helps the Right.’

Thanksgiving for our men who came
In Heaven-protected ships,
The waning tide of hope to swell,
With ‘Lusitania’ and ‘Cavell’
As watchwords on their lips.

Thanksgiving that our splendid dead,
All radiant with youth,
Dwell near to us – there is no death.
Thanksgiving for the broad new faith
That helps us know this truth.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Dirge

Death and a dirge at midnight;
Yet never a soul in the house
Heard anything more than the throb and beat
Of a beautiful waltz of Strauss.

Dead, dead, dead, and staring,
With a ghastly smile on its face;
But the world saw only laughing eyes
And roses, and billows of lace.

Floating and whirling together,
Into the beautiful night,
How little you dreamed of the ghastly thing
I was hiding away from your sight.

Meeting your dark eyes’ splendour,
Feeling your warm, sweet breath,
How could you know that my passionate heart
Had died a horrible death?

Died in its fever and fervour,
Died in its beautiful bloom;
And that waltz of Strauss was a funeral dirge,
Leading the way to the tomb.

But you held my hand at parting,
And I smiled back a gay good night;
And you never knew of the ghastly corpse
I was hiding away from your sight.

Yet whenever I hear the Danube –
Under its pulsing strain,
I catch the wail of the funeral dirge,
And my heart dies over again.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Solar Eclipse

In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.

Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Plea To Peace

When mighty issues loom before us, all
The petty great men of the day seem small,
Like pigmies standing in a blaze of light
Before some grim majestic mountain-height.
War, with its bloody and impartial hand,
Reveals the hidden weakness of a land,
Uncrowns the heroes trusting Peace has made
Of men whose honour is a thing of trade,
And turns the searchlight full on many a place
Where proud conventions long have masked disgrace.
O lovely Peace! as thou art fair be wise.
Demand great men, and great men shall arise
To do thy bidding. Even as warriors come,
Swift at the call of bugle and of drum,
So at the voice of Peace, imperative
As bugle’s call, shall heroes spring to live
For country and for thee. In every land,
In every age, men are what times demand.
Demand the best, O Peace, and teach thy sons
They need not rush in front of death-charged guns
With murder in their hearts to prove their worth.
The grandest heroes who have graced the earth
Were love-filled souls who did not seek the fray,
But chose the safe, hard, high, and lonely way
Of selfless labour for a suffering world.
Beneath our glorious flag again unfurled
In victory such heroes wait to be
Called into bloodless action, Peace, by thee.
Be thou insistent in thy stern demand,
And wise, great men shall rise up in the land.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Dear friend, I pray thee, if thou wouldst be proving
Thy strong regard for me,
Make me no vows. Lip-service is not loving;
Let thy faith speak for thee.

Swear not to me that nothing can divide us –
So little such oaths mean.
But when distrust and envy creep beside us
Let them not come between.

Say not to me the depths of thy devotion
Are deeper than the sea;
But watch, lest doubt or some unkind emotion
Embitter them for me.

Vow not to love me ever and forever,
Words are such idle things;
But when we differ in opinions, never
Hurt me by little stings.

I’m sick of words: they are so lightly spoken,
And spoken, are but air.
I’d rather feel thy trust in me unbroken
Than list thy words so fair.

If all the little proofs of trust are heeded,
If thou art always kind,
No sacrifice, no promise will be needed
To satisfy my mind.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Little Song

Oh, a great world, a fair world, a true world I find it;
A sun that never forgets to rise,
On the darkest night, a star in the skies,
And a God of love behind it.

Oh, a good life, a sweet life, a large life I take it,
Is what He offers to you, and me;
A chance to do, and a chance to be,
Whatever we chose to make it.

Oh, a far way, a high way, a sure way He leads us;
And if the journey at times seems long,
We must trudge ahead, with a trustful song,
And know at the end He needs us.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Curious Story

I heard such a curious story
Of Santa Claus: once, so they say,
He set out to see what people were kind,
Before he took presents their way.
‘This year I will give but to givers,
To those who make presents themselves,’
With a nod of his head old Santa Claus said
To his band of bright officer-elves.

‘Go into the homes of the happy
Where pleasure stands page at the door.
Watch well how they live, and report what they give
To the hordes of God’s suffering poor.
Keep track of each cent and each moment;
Yes, tell me each word, too, they use:
To silver line clouds for earth’s suffering crowds,
And tell me, too, when they refuse.’

So into our homes flew the fairies,
Though never a soul of us knew,
And with pencil and book they sat by and took
Each action, if false, or if true.
White marks for the deeds done for others –
Black marks for the deeds done for self.
And nobody hid what he said or he did,
For no one, of course, sees an elf.

Well, Christmas came all in its season,
And Santa Claus, so I am told,
With a very light pack of small gifts on his back,
And his reindeers all left in the fold,
Set out on a leisurely journey,
And finished ere midnight, they say.
And there never had been such surprise and chagrin
Before on the breaking of day,

As there was on that bright Christmas morning
When stockings, and cupboards, and shelves
Were ransacked and sought in, for gifts that were not in –
But wasn’t it fun for the elves!
And what did I get? You confuse me –
I got not one thing, and that’s true;
But had I suspected my actions detected
I would have had gifts, wouldn’t you?

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Leaf

Somebody said, in the crowd, last eve,
That you were married, or soon to be.
I have not thought of you, I believe,
Since last we parted. Let me see:
Five long Summers have passed since then –
Each has been pleasant in its own way –
And you are but one of a dozen men
Who have played the suitor a Summer day.

But, nevertheless, when I heard your name,
Coupled with some one’s, not my own,
There burned in my bosom a sudden flame,
That carried me back to the day that is flown.
I was sitting again by the laughing brook,
With you at my feet, and the sky above,
And my heart was fluttering under your look –
The unmistakable look of Love.

Again your breath, like a South wind, fanned
My cheek, where the blushes came and went;
And the tender clasp of your strong, warm hand
Sudden thrills through my pulses sent.
Again you were mine by Love’s own right –
Mine for ever by Love’s decree:
So for a moment it seemed last night,
When somebody mentioned your name to me.

Just for the moment I thought you mine –
Loving me, wooing me, as of old.
The tale remembered seemed half divine –
Though I held it lightly enough when told.
The past seemed fairer than when it was near,
As “blessings brighten when taking flight;”
And just for the moment I held you dear –
When somebody mentioned your name last night.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Burial

To-day I had a burial of my dead.
There was no shroud, no coffin, and no pall,
No prayers were uttered and no tears were shed –
I only turned a picture to the wall.

A picture that had hung within my room
For years and years; a relic of my youth.
It kept the rose of love in constant bloom
To see those eyes of earnestness and truth.

At hours wherein no other dared intrude,
I had drawn comfort from its smiling grace.
Silent companion of my solitude,
My soul held sweet communion with that face.

I lived again the dream so bright, so brief,
Though wakened as we all are by some Fate;
This picture gave me infinite relief,
And did not leave me wholly desolate.

To-day I saw an item, quite by chance,
That robbed me of my pitiful poor dole:
A marriage notice fell beneath my glance,
And I became a lonely widowed soul.

With drooping eyes, and cheeks a burning flame,
I turned the picture to the blank wall’s gloom.
My very heart had died in me of shame,
If I had left it smiling in my room.

Another woman’s husband. So, my friend,
My comfort, my sole relic of the past,
I bury thee, and, lonely, seek the end.
Swift age has swept my youth from me at last.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Magnificent poems indeed! No wonder she became known as a poet in her state when she graduated from high school. She’s incredible!

Of course, my all-time favorite poem of hers―“Friendship;” it’s brief but heart-touching.

What about you? What’s your most favorite poem of Ella Wheeler Wilcox?

Do you still want to add another of her poem to this list? Let me know in the comment section below! 😉


3 thoughts on “Top 20 Most Popular Poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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