Alec de Candole

(1897-1918 / England)

Heredity - Poem by Alec de Candole

WHAT desires and powers are working in me
Strains of long-forgotten ancestry,
Loves and hates, I know not, thoughts and passions
Strangely mingled all, to furnish me.

Did some sire of mine in ages olden
Yield an hour of passion now forgot?
I his offspring, lo ! must watch and struggle
'Gainst the lust that he regarded not.

Did he fight in chivalry and honour.
Spurn his own life, spare a conquered foe?
Still that light beams on me as I wander,
Shed from his fair deeds of long ago.

Yet, though thus the past surrounds and holds me,
Strong in good, or baleful with its sin.
Forming me, and prompting yet my actions,
Strange mysterious influence within, —

Still myself I rule within my spirit,
Still I guide my purpose and my will,
Cherish yet my loves and aspirations.
Persecute the evil in me still,

So to each succeeding generation
Handing on the evil weaker yet.
All the good my fathers gave the stronger.
Living on though all the world forget,

Lest my sons unborn should rise and curse me,
Saying, 'He, the recreant from the fray,
Now has cast a heavy weight upon us.
His sin clogging our aspiring way.'

Ay, for evil faints not in the battle.
Still to war undaunted comes the right,
Each man's riven soul both field and warriors,
Sharing all mankind's eternal fight.

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Maya Angelou

Caged Bird

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 25, 2010

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