Nothing New

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox 1850–1919
Oh, what am I but an engine, shod
   With muscle and flesh, by the hand of God,
Speeding on through the dense, dark night,
   Guided alone by the soul’s white light.

Often and often my mad heart tires,
   And hates its way with a bitter hate,
And longs to follow its own desires,
   And leave the end in the hands of fate.

O, mighty engine of steel and steam;
   O, human engine of blood and bone,
Follow the white light’s certain beam—
   There lies safety, and there alone.

The narrow track of fearless truth,
   Lit by the soul’s great eye of light,
O passionate heart of restless youth,
   Alone will carry you through the night.

Source: American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (The Library of America, 1993)

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Poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox 1850–1919

Subjects Nature, Religion, The Body, God & the Divine

 Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born in Johnstown, Wisconsin and her poetry was being published by the time she graduated from high school. Her poetry was very popular, generally written in plain, rhyming verse. Her works include Poems of Passion (1883), A Woman of the World (1904), Poems of Peace (1906), Poems of Experience (1910), and Poems (1919).

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SUBJECT Nature, Religion, The Body, God & the Divine

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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