ELLA WHEELER WILCOX - A
GREAT AMERICAN POET
Ella Wheeler was born in 1850 on a farm
in rural Johnstown, Wisconsin, east of Janesville, the youngest of four
children. The family soon moved to north of Madison. She started writing poetry
at a very early age, and was well known as a poet in her own state by the time
she graduated from high school. When about 28 years of age, she married Robert
Wilcox. They had one child, a son, who died shortly after birth. Not long after
their marriage, they both became interested in Theosophy, New Thought, and
Early in their married life, they promised each other that whoever went first
through death would return and communicate with the other. Robert Wilcox died in
1916, after over thirty years of marriage. Ella was overcome with grief, which
became ever more intense as week after week went without any message from him.
It was at this time that she went to California to see the Rosicrucian
astrologer Max Heindel, still seeking help in her sorrow, still unable to
understand why she had had no word from her Robert. This is how she tells of
"In talking with Max Heindel, the leader of the Rosicrucian Philosophy in
California, he made very clear to me the effect of intense grief. Mr. Heindel
assured me that I would come in touch with the spirit of my husband when I
learned to control my sorrow. I replied that it seemed strange to me that an
omnipotent God could not send a flash of his light into a suffering soul to
bring its conviction when most needed. 'Did you ever stand beside a clear pool of
water,' asked Mr. Heindel, 'and see the trees and skies reflected therein? And did
you ever cast a stone into that pool and see how it made it so clouded and turmoiled,
gave no reflection? Yet the skies and trees were still waiting above to be reflected
when the waters grew calm. So God and your husband's spirit wait to show
themselves to you when the turbulence of sorrow is quieted' ".
Several months later, she composed a little mantra or affirmative prayer which
she said over and over "I am the living witness: The dead live: And they speak
through us and to us: And I am the voice that gives this glorious truth to the
suffering world: I am ready, God: I am ready, Christ: I am ready, Robert.".
Wilcox made efforts to teach occult things to the world. Her works, filled with
positivism, were popular in the New Thought Movement and by 1915 her booklet,
What I Know About New Thought had a distribution of 50,000 copies, according to
its publisher, Elizabeth Towne. The New Thought Movement was the forerunner of
modern metaphysical beliefs and heavily influenced such groups as Unity Church
and Religious Science.
The following statement expresses Wilcox's unique blending of New Thought,
Spiritualism, and a Theosophical belief in reincarnation: "As we think, act, and
live here today, we built the structures of our homes in spirit realms after we
leave earth, and we build karma for future lives, thousands of years to come, on
this earth or other planets. Life will assume new dignity, and labor new
interest for us, when we come to the knowledge that death is but a continuation
of life and labor, in higher planes".
Ella Wilcox succumbed to cancer and
crossed over in 1919 at the age of 69. Her metaphysical beliefs are ever present
in her poetry. Four of her most famous and best loved poems are shown here.
Click on the poem titles shown below to read them, and enjoy.....
But, There's More.....
We would be amiss if we did not
also honor another great poet and a contemporary of Ella Wilcox, Robert W.
Service (1874-1958). Although born in England, his life in Canada and writings
about the Yukon Territories have been instrumental in bringing attention to
Western Canada and Alaska.
Service was born into a Scottish family while they were living in England, he
moved to Canada at the age of 21, traveled to British Columbia and actually had
dreams of becoming a cowboy. He drifted around western North America, taking and
quitting a series of jobs. Hired by the Canadian Bank of Commerce, he worked in
a number of its branches before being posted to the branch in the Yukon
Territory in 1904, six years after the Klondike Gold Rush. Inspired by the vast
beauty of the Yukon wilderness, Service began writing poetry about the things he
saw. Conversations with locals led him to write about things he hadn't seen,
many of which hadn't actually happened, as well.
of his best known works include "The Cremation of Sam McGee," "My Madonna,"
"Tales of the Yukon" and "The
Men That Don't Fit In." Check this