On the white throat of useless passion
That scorched my soul with its burning breath
I clutched my fingers in murderous fashion
And gathered them close in a grip of death;

For why should I fan, or feed with fuel,
A love that showed me but blank despair?
So my hold was firm, and my grasp was cruel –
I meant to strangle it then and there!

I thought it was dead. But, with no warning,
It rose from its grave last night and came
And stood by my bed till the early morning.
And over and over it spoke your name.

Its throat was red where my hands had held it;
It burned my brow with its scorching breath;
And I said, the moment my eyes beheld it,
‘A love like this can know no death.’

For just one kiss that your lips have given
In the lost and beautiful past to me,
I would gladly barter my hopes of Heaven
And all the bliss of Eternity.

For never a joy are the angels keeping,
To lay at my feet in Paradise,
Like that of into your strong arms creeping,
And looking into your love lit eyes.

I know, in the way that sins are reckoned,
This thought is a sin of the deepest dye;
But I know too that if an angel beckoned,
Standing close by the Throne on High,
And you, adown by the gates infernal,
Should open your loving arms and smile,
I would turn my back on things supernal,
To lie on your breast a little while.

To know for an hour you were mine completely-
Mine in body and soul, my own-
I would bear unending tortures sweetly,
With not a murmur and not a moan.

A lighter sin or lesser error
Might change through hope or fear divine;
But there is no fear, and hell hath no terror,
To change or alter a love like mine.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem Ad Finum


  1. Barbara says:

    I found this poem when I was 15 and it had such meaning that I never forgot it – I, too, looked for it by the first line and found it straight away. At 39 years old, I still love and cherish it.

  2. Barbie says:

    This has been favorite poem since I was 16 *that’s 18 years ago. I never knew who wrote it, or the title. But I had read a hand written copy that just said author unknown years ago. Today I browsed for the beginning line and found it. It has such meaning, such truth!

  3. April says:

    I love this poem! I’m not very old, but the way that the author writes about her love and passion for this person makes it completely understandable and real. It’s one of my favorite poems, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox is one of my favorite poets.

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