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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

As by Fire

Sometimes I feel so passionate a yearning
    For spiritual perfection here below,
This vigorous frame with healthful fervour 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. 

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox's other poems:
  1. At the Boro Boedoer
  2. The Awakening (I love the tropics, where sun and rain)
  3. Be Not Content
  4. Beauty (The search for beauty is the search for God)
  5. The Bed

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