Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Nov. 5, 1850 - Oct. 30, 1919


The Law (Life is a Shylock; always it demands...)

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Life is a Shylock; always it demands
The fullest usurer's interests for each pleasure.
Gifts are not freely scattered by its hands:
We make returns for every borrowed treasure.

Each talent, each achievement, and each gain
Necessitates some penalty to pay.
Delight imposes lassitude and pain,
As certainly as darkness follows day.

All you bestow on causes or on men,
Of love or hate, of malice or devotion,
Somehow, sometime, shall be returned again --
There is no wasted toil, no lost emotion.

The motto of the world is give and take.
It gives you favours -- out of sheer goodwill.
But unless speedy recompense you make,
You'll find yourself presented with its bill.

When rapture comes to thrill the heart of you,
Take it with tempered gratitude. Remember,
Some later time the interest will fall due.
No year brings June that does not bring December.


Poems of Pleasure
Copyright 1900
Gay And Bird, 22 Bedford Street, Strand, London