Because of the fullness of what I had,
All that I have seems poor and vain.
If I had not been happy, I were not sad–
Tho’ my salt is savorless, why complain?

From the ripe perfection of what was mine,
All that is mine seems worse than naught;
Yet I know, as I sit in the dark and pine,
No cup can be drained which has not been fraught.

From the throb and the thrill of a day that was,
The day that now is seems dull with gloom;
Yet I bear the dullness and darkness, because
‘Tis but the reaction of glow and bloom.

From the royal feast that of old was spread
I am starved on the diet that now is mine;
Yet, I could not turn hungry from water and bread
If I had not been sated on fruit and wine.

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

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