From Sin to Strength
Yes, this sin which has sent me weary-hearted to bed and desperate in heart to morning work, that has made my plans miscarry until I am a coward, that cuts me off from prayer, that robs the sky of blueness and the earth of spring-time, and the air of freshness, and human faces of friendliness,—this blasting sin which perhaps has made my bed in hell for me so long,—this can be conquered. I not say annihilated, but, better than that, conquered, captured and transfigured into a friend: so that I at last shall say, ‘My temptation has become my strength! For to the very fight with it I owe my force.’
— William Channing Gannett (1840-1923)
A Longing for Fuller Existence
The whole object of existence is happiness. Whether a man seeks his happiness by martyrdom or by sensuality, it is that he pursues. If a man seek momentary happiness at cost of more permanent happiness, he but illustrates Zoroaster's saying, “Wicked spirits are of dull reason.” Seeking joy, a moth is consumed in candle; seeking joy, a saint is consumed in his cell; seeking joy, a drunkard is consumed in alcohol, and a sensualist in lust. His brief ecstasy cannot be denied to either, any more than the terrible price paid for it. In each there is a noble longing,—a longing for fuller existence, for freedom; some prisoned power trying to burst into beauty. If each of these moths could only get the same ecstasy in a painted flame,—find the bliss without the ashes,—the mad desire would rise smokeless and pure. But because that cannot be done in ordinary life we praise that man as wiser who fulfills the harder prosaic conditions, and sacrifices part of his happiness to secure the rest and the best. All this is in the natural world. But there is a supernatural world. There is a light that never was on land or sea. There is a melody born of melody by which man is lifted out of these laborious or perilous conditions. Glimpses of this higher world are vouchsafed to all. There are few lives in which there have not occurred here and there the moment when some strain of music, some beautiful scene, a grand picture, or a thrilling oration a poem, an emotion of love, or communion with a kindred intellect, has not awakened a serene joy, a lofty happiness, which all he has toiled for could not purchase.
— Moncure D. Conway (born March 17, 1832)
To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, where of stars, grown old
In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
Sing in their high and lonely melody.
Come near, that no more blinded hy man’s fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.
Come near, come near, come near—Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more bear common things that crave;
The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
But seek alone to hear the strange things said
By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
Come near; I would, before my time to go,
Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.
— William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)