Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)



As I sat in my opera box last night

In a glimmer of gems and a blaze of light,
      And smiling that all might see,
This curious thought came all unsought -
      That there were two of me.


One who sat in her silk and lace,
With gems on her bosom and smiles on her face,
      And hot-house blossoms in her hair,
While her fan kept time to the swaying rhyme
      Of the lilting opera air.


And one who sat in the dark somewhere,
With her wan face hid by her falling hair,
      And her hands clasped over her eyes;
And the sickening pain of heart and brain
      Breathed out in long-drawn sighs.


One in the sheen of her opera suit;
And one who was swathed from head to foot,
      In crepe of the blackest dye.
One hiding her heart and playing a part,
      And one with her mask thrown by.


But over the voice of the singer there,
The one who sat with a rose in her hair,
      Seemed ever to hear the moan
Of the one who kept in the dark and wept
      With her desolate heart alone.



More information on Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Written on 2021-03-08 at 00:04

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jim The PoetBay support member heart!
This kind of confessional poem was unusual for the period. Thank you posting it. This "stepping out of yourself," she describes is something most poets understand.