Apr 2, 2018

Two Poems on the One Law

Everything You Do Will Return to You Again

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

1. The Law

Life is a Shylock; always it demands
The fullest usurer’s interest 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.

2. Recompense

Straight through my heart this fact to-day,
By Truth’s own hand is driven:
God [1] never takes one thing away,
But something else is given.

I did not know in earlier years,
This law of love and kindness;
I only mourned through bitter tears
My loss, in sorrow’s blindness.

But, ever following each regret
O’er some departed treasure,
My sad repining heart was met
With unexpected pleasure.

I thought it only happened so;
But Time this truth has taught me -
No least thing from my life can go,
But something else is brought me.

It is the Law, complete, sublime;
And now with Faith unshaken,
In patience I but bide my time.
When any joy is taken.

No matter if the crushing blow
May for the moment down me,
Still, behind it waits Love, I know,
With some new gift to crown me.


[1] In Theosophy, “God” means the Universal Law and the One Life. (CCA)


The above poems are reproduced from the book “Poetical Works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox”, published by W.P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, Edinburgh, undated, probably 1917, 527 pages. “The Law”: pp. 415-416. “Recompense”: pp. 416-417.


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