Ella Wheeler Wilcox (5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)
Immortal life is something to be earned,
By slow, self-conquest, comradeship with pain,
And patient seeking after higher truths.
We cannot follow our own wayward wills
And feed our baser appetites and give
Loose reins to foolish tempers, year on year,
And then cry, 'Lord, forgive me, I believe --'
And straightway bathe in glory. Men must learn
God's system is too great a thing for that;
The spark divine dwells in each soul, and we
Can fan it to a steady flame of light,
Whose lustre guilds the pathway of the tomb
And shines on through eternity, or else
Neglect it till it simmers down to death
And leaves us but the darkness of the grave.
Each conquered passion feeds the living flame;
Each well-borne sorrow is a step toward God.
Faith cannot rescue, and no blood redeem
The soul that will not reason and resolve.
Lean on thyself, yet prop thyself with prayer,
For these are spirits, messengers of light,
Who come at call and fortify thy strength,
Make friends with thee and with thine inner self,
Cast out all envy, bitterness, and hate.
And keep the mind's fair tabernacle pure;
Shake hands with Pain, give greeting unto Grief,
Those angels in disguise and thy glad soul,
From light to light from star to shining star,
Shall climb and claim blest immortality.'
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