As By Fire

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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.

from Poems of Passion by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1883)

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