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Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

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.

Submitted: Friday, April 02, 2010

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