The Inner Conflict

By Joseph Skipsey

THRICE ‘IචPæan!’ let me cry,
And bless the hour that I was born
And born thro’ love in vain to sigh-
To cheer my longing heart a morn
Has risen in my ebon sky,
Such as did e’er my sky adorn;
And now with shout triumphant, lo!
A victor on my way I go.

A tenant of some curse-girt sphere
Long seem’d I-even so-and Pain
Still by a destiny severe,
Had power my spirit to enchain,
Or to impel his venomed spear
Up to the hilt in heart and brain;
And this he did-but this once done,
The measure of his power was run-

Yea, having brooked the worst, I felt
The power within, with steadfast gaze,
To scan the blows upon me dealt,-
Life’s issues to their cause to trace;
And whilst I looked, the fogs did melt
That swathed my ken-and face to face
I stood with Fate’s own self and viewed
The secret of the lash I’d rued.

Illumined by an inner light,
My past a pictured scroll became,
In which my sorrow, my delight,
My hope, my fear, my pride, my shame,
Assumed a shape and colour quite
Beyond the power of speech to name-
A chronicle mysterious, man
Engrossed by self might never scan.

Yet gazing on that mystic scroll,
Enough of its contents was read,
To teach my desolated soul,
Not all in vain she’d pined and bled
Beneath the lash, the dire control
Of passions fierce, by beauty fed;-
Nor yet in vain her longings-if
She read aright this hieroglyph.

This learned I from that scroll, and learned
The way by which to rend the chain
Had kept my soul in self inurned:
Unhappy self that would obtain,
Whatever won is ever mourn’d,
Whose blessings e’er as bans remain-
Ah, would that men would reek this reed,
So would their hearts less often bleed.

With feelings sharpened-eye and ear-
For others weal I then did learn
To shed the sympathetic tear,
To wile the frown from temples stern;
To do the thing desired to cheer,
To speak the word required to warn;
And in return a boon did find,
In all appeals to heart and mind.

Ay, with the All-enwoven-both
The outer and the inner world
Did I survey-e’en in the froth
By Life’s imperious surges hurled
In its unutterable wroth,
As worthy only to be furl’d
In limbo’s bosom-on Time’s sands,
A sheen that seen the soul expands.

That glory in the grass, as sung
By deep-souled bard, and in the flower
A glamour o’er my spirit flung,
And strove-nor vainly-to re-dower
Her with that bliss from which we sprung,
When in creation’s natal hour
God said, ‘Let there be Light!’-and up
She leapt enraptured with Life’s cup.

Then ‘IචPæans!’ let me cry,
And bless the hour that I was born,
And born thro’ Love to languish-ay,
To curse that natal hour-a morn
Has risen in my spirit’s sky,
Such as did ne’er that sky adorn
And now with shout triumphant, lo!
A victor on my way I go.

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