Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Nov. 5, 1850 - Oct. 30, 1919


The Fault of the Age

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The fault of the age is a mad endeavour
To leap to heights that were made to climb:
By a burst of strength, of a thought most clever,
We plan to forestall and outwit Time.

We scorn to wait for the thing worth having;
We want high noon at the day's dim dawn;
We find no pleasure in toiling and saving,
As our forefathers did in the old times gone.

We force our roses, before their season,
To bloom and blossom for us to wear;
And then we wonder and ask the reason
Why perfect buds are so few and rare.

We crave the gain, but despise the getting;
We want wealth - not as reward, but dower;
And the strength that is wasted in useless fretting
Would fell a forest or build a tower.

To covet the prize, yet to shrink from the winning;
To thirst for glory, yet fear to fight;
Why, what can it lead to at last, but sinning,
To mental languor and moral blight?

Better the old slow way of striving,
And counting small gains when the year is done,
Than to use our force and our strength in contriving,
And to grasp for pleasure we have not won.


Poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Copyright 1910
W.P. Nimmo, Hay, and Mitchell, Edinburgh