Momus, God of Laughter by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Though with gods the world is cumbered,
Gods unnamed, and gods unnumbered,
Never god was known to be
Who had not his devotee.
So I dedicate to mine,
Here in verse, my temple-shrine.

‘Tis not Ares,–mighty Mars,
Who can give success in wars.
‘Tis not Morpheus, who doth keep
Guard above us while we sleep,
‘Tis not Venus, she whose duty
‘Tis to give us love and beauty;
Hail to these, and others, after
Momus, gleesome god of laughter.

Quirinus would guard my health,
Plutus would insure me wealth;
Mercury looks after trade,
Hera smiles on youth and maid.
All are kind, I own their worth,
After Momus, god of mirth.

Though Apollo, out of spite,
Hides away his face of light,
Though Minerva looks askance,
Deigning me no smiling glance,
Kings and queens may envy me
While I claim the god of glee.

Wisdom wearies, Love has wings –
Wealth makes burdens, Pleasure stings,
Glory proves a thorny crown –
So all gifts the gods throw down
Bring their pains and troubles after;
All save Momus, god of laughter.
He alone gives constant joy.
Hail to Momus, happy boy.

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As by Fire by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Sometimes I feel so passionate a yearning
For spiritual perfection here below,
This vigorous frame, with healthful fervor burning,
Seems my determined foe,

So actively it makes a stern resistance,
So cruelly sometimes it wages war
Against a wholly spiritual existence
Which I am striving for.

It interrupts my soul’s intense devotions;
Some hope it strangles, of divinest birth,
With a swift rush of violent emotions
Which link me to the earth.

It is as if two mortal foes contended
Within my bosom in a deadly strife,
One for the loftier aims for souls intended,
One for the earthly life.

And yet I know this very war within me,
Which brings out all my will-power and control,
This very conflict at the last shall win me
The loved and longed-for goal.

The very fire which seems sometimes so cruel
Is the white light that shows me my own strength.
A furnace, fed by the divinest fuel,
It may become at length.

Ah! when in the immortal ranks enlisted,
I sometimes wonder if we shall not find
That not by deeds, but by what we’ve resisted,
Our places are assigned.

The Two Glasses by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

There sat two glasses filled to the brim
On a rich man’s table, rim to rim,
One was ruddy and red as blood,
And one was clear as the crystal flood.

Said the Glass of Wine to his paler brother:
“Let us tell tales of the past to each other;
I can tell of banquet and revel and mirth,
Where I was king, for I ruled in might;
For the proudest and grandest souls of earth
Fell under my touch, as though struck with blight.
From the heads of kings I have torn the crown;
From the heights of fame I have hurled men down.
I have blasted many an honored name;
I have taken virtue and given shame;
I have tempted youth with a sip, a taste,
That has made his future a barren waste.
Far greater than any king am I,
Or than any army beneath the sky.
I have made the arm of the driver fail,
And sent the train from the iron rail.
I have made good ships go down at sea.
And the shrieks of the lost were sweet to me.
Fame, strength, wealth, genius before me fall;
And my might and power are over all!
Ho, ho, pale brother,” said the Wine,
“Can you boast of deeds as great as mine?”

Said the Water Glass: “I cannot boast
Of a king dethroned, or a murdered host;
But I can tell of hearts that were sad,
By my crystal drops made bright and glad;
Of thirsts I have quenched and brows I have laved,
Of hands I have cooled, and souls I have saved.
I have leaped through the valley, dashed down the mountain,
Slipped from the sunshine, and dripped from the fountain,
I have burst my cloud-fetters, and dropped from the sky,
And everywhere gladdened the prospect and eye;
I have eased the hot forehead of fever and pain,
I have made the parched meadows grow fertile with grain.
I can tell of the powerful wheel of the mill,
That ground out the flour, and turned at my will.
I can tell of manhood debased by you
That I have uplifted and crowned anew;
I cheer, I help, I strengthen and aid,
I gladden the heart of man and maid;
I set the wine-chained captive free,
And all are better for knowing me.”

These are the tales they told each other,
The Glass of Wine, and its paler brother,
As they sat together, filled to the brim,
On a rich man’s table, rim to rim.