Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Nov. 5, 1850 - Oct. 30, 1919


The Doomed Cities Prayer

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(After the Burning of Chicago.)

I heard a low sound, like a troubled soul praying:
And the winds of the winter night brought it to me.
Twas the doomed city's voice: Oh, kind snow, it was saying,
Come, cover my ruins, so ghastly to see,
I am robbed of my beauty, and shorn of my glory;
And the strength that I boasted -- where is it to-day?
I am down in the dust; and my pitiful story
Make tearless eyes weep, and unpious lips pray.

I -- I, who have reveled in pomp and in power,
Am down on my knees, with my face in the dust.
But yesterday queen, with a queen's royal dower,
To-day I am glad of a crumb or a crust.
But yesterday reigning, a grand mighty city,
The pride of the nation, the queen of the West;
To-day I am gazed at, an object of pity,
A charity child, asking alms, at the best.

My strength, and my pride, and my glory departed,
My fair features scorched by the fire fiends breath,
Is it strange that I'm soul-sick and sorrowful hearted?
Is it strange that my thoughts run on ruin and death?
Oh, white, fleecy clouds that are drooping above me,
Hark, hark to my pleadings, and answer my sighs,
And let down the beautiful snow, if you love me,
To cover my wounds from all pitying eyes.

I am hurled from my throne, but not hurled down for ever,
I shall rise from the dust, I shall live down my woes
But my heart lies to-day, like a dumb, frozen river;
When to thaw out and flow again, God only knows.
Oh, sprites of the air! I beseech you to weave me
A mantle of white snow, and beautiful rime
To cover my unsightly ruins; then leave me
In the hands of the healer of all wounds -- 'Old Time.'

November, 1871.


Copyright 1873
Hauser & Storey, Milwaukee