my favorite on-line library. There is all kinds of undiscovered treasure lurking in the books there. Just waiting for you to break out your torch and look around.
Ever feel like being a Catholic Christian is a battle? Sure you do, because we were never promised a rose garden, right? This poem may either scare you straight or help you see the light. Written by Louise Imogen Guiney, my inner (and outer) warrior read this and my compass headed to true north once again.
Louise was Catholic too, born in Boston and educated in a convent school in Rhode Island. I don't know a lot about her, but the good folks over at Poetry Foundation have a decent biography on her. The editor there writes that,
Guiney is also praised for the posthumously published Recusant Poets (1939), an anthology of poetry by Catholic authors from the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries that she coedited with Geoffrey Bliss.
I'll be looking to see if I can find that book shortly.
"My spirits are fallen low,
And I cannot carry this battle:
O brother! where might I go?
"The terrible Kings are on me
With spears that are deadly bright;
Against me so from the cradle
Do fate and my fathers fight."
Then said to the man his Angel:
"Thou wavering, witless soul,
Back to the ranks! What matter
To win or to lose the whole,
Who hearken not well, nor see?
Not thus, by the outer issue,
The Wise shall interpret thee.
"Thy will is the sovereign measure
And only events of things:
The puniest heart, defying,
Were stronger than all these Kings.
"Though out of the past they gather,
Mind's Doubt, and Bodily Pain,
And pallid Thirst of the Spirit
That is kin to the other twain,
"And Grief, in a cloud of banners,
And ringletted Vain Desires,
And Vice, with the spoils upon him
Of thee and thy beaten sires, --
"While Kings of eternal evil
Yet darken the hills about,
Thy part is with broken sabre
To rise on the last redoubt;
"To fear not sensible failure,
Nor covet the game at all,
But fighting, fighting, fighting,
Die, driven against the wall."