AS BY FIRE

Sometimes I feel so passionate a yearning
For spiritual perfection here below,
This vigorous frame with healthful fervor burning,
      Seems my determined foe.

So actively it makes a stern resistance,
So cruelly sometimes it wages war
Against a wholly spiritual existence
      Which I am striving for.

It interrupts my soul's intense devotions,
Some hope it strangles of divinest birth,
With a swift rush of violent emotions
      Which link me to the earth.

It is as if two mortal foes contended
Within my bosom in a deadly strife,
One for the loftier aims for souls intended,
      One for the earthly life.

And yet I know this very war within me,
Which brings out all my will-power and control;
This very conflict at the last shall win me
      The loved and longed-for goal.

The very fire which seems sometimes so cruel,
Is the white light, that shows me my own strength.
A furnace, fed by the divinest fuel
      It may become at length.

Ah! when in the immortal ranks enlisted,
I sometimes wonder if we shall not find
That not by deeds, but by what we've resisted,
      Our places are assigned.

Poems of Passion by Ella Wheeler
Chicago : Belford, Clarke & Co, 1883.


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