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Temptation Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Sifting of Peter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  2. The Soul-Conflict by Paul Hamilton Hayne
  3. As By Fire by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  4. The Fly in the Glass by Hannah Flagg Gould
  5. Mésalliance by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  6. Twin-Born by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  7. Just a Nail by Amos Russel Wells
  8. The Chapel in the Heart by Selena Ware Paine

  1. The Sifting of Peter

    Satan desires us, great and small,
    As wheat to sift us, and we all
    Are tempted;
    Not one, however rich or great,
    Is by his station or estate
    Exempted.

    - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    The Sifting of Peter
    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    In St. Luke's Gospel we are told
    How Peter in the days of old
    Was sifted;
    And now, though ages intervene,
    Sin is the same, while time and scene
    Are shifted.

    Satan desires us, great and small,
    As wheat to sift us, and we all
    Are tempted;
    Not one, however rich or great,
    Is by his station or estate
    Exempted.

    No house so safely guarded is
    But he, by some device of his,
    Can enter;
    No heart hath armor so complete
    But he can pierce with arrows fleet
    Its centre.

    For all at last the cock will crow,
    Who hear the warning voice, but go
    Unheeding,
    Till thrice and more they have denied
    The Man of Sorrows, crucified
    And bleeding.

    One look of that pale, suffering face
    Will make us feel the deep disgrace
    Of weakness;
    We shall be sifted till the strength
    Of self-conceit be changed at length
    To meekness.

    Wounds of the soul, though healed, will ache;
    The reddening scars remain, and make
    Confession;
    Lost innocence returns no more; We are not what we were before Transgression.

    But noble souls, through dust and heat,
    Rise from disaster and defeat
    The stronger,
    And conscious still of the divine
    Within them, lie on earth supine
    No longer.

  2. The Soul-Conflict

    The soul, through the siege of temptations,
    Yields not unto fraud, nor to might,
    Unquelled by the rush of the passions,
    Serene 'mid the tumults of fight.

    - Paul Hamilton Hayne
    The Soul-Conflict
    by Paul Hamilton Hayne

    Defeated! but never disheartened!
    Repulsed! but unconquered in will,
    Upon dreary discomfitures building
    Her virtue's strong battlements still,
    The soul, through the siege of temptations,
    Yields not unto fraud, nor to might,
    Unquelled by the rush of the passions,
    Serene 'mid the tumults of fight.

    She sees a grand prize in the distance,
    She hears a glad sound of acclaims,
    The crown wrought of blooms amaranthine
    The music far sweeter than Fame's
    And so, 'gainst the rush of the passions
    She lifts the broad buckler of right,
    And so, through the glooms of temptation,
    She walks in a splendor of light.

  3. As By Fire

    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.

  4. The Fly in the Glass

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Ah! thou lost, unwary thing,
    Flutt'ring with a tortured wing—
    Crying, with thy little feet
    Scorch'd amid surrounding heat!
    Poor, unhappy, suffering fly,
    What a painful death to die!

    Since, so rashly thou hast strayed
    'Twixt the funnel and the shade,
    In the fiery prison lost,
    Now thy life must pay the cost
    Of venturing too near the glare,
    Dazzling to allure thee there!

    Oh! it fills my heart with pain,
    Thus to see thee strive in vain
    For escape; for I, alas!
    Am too small to lift the glass.
    Mother says I must not take
    Things my little hands might break.

    Here she comes! but 't is too late!
    Thou, poor thing, hast met thy fate.
    Motion ceases—life has fled—
    Dropping on the table, dead,
    Now I see thee, thoughtless fly!
    'T was a foolish death to die.

    'Yes, my child, in careless play,
    Thus his life is thrown away.
    For a thing that pleased the eye
    He rushed onward but to die!
    Yet, remember, there was none
    Warning him the blaze to shun.

    'If thou think'st the untaught flies,
    For their errors, so unwise,
    Let this insect's fall be hence
    From temptation thy defence!
    On thy heart a picture stamp
    Of the fly about the lamp!'

  5. Misalliance

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    I am troubled tonight with a curious pain;
    It is not of the flesh, it is not of the brain,
    Nor yet of a heart that is breaking:
    But down still deeper, and out of sight—
    In the place where the soul and the body unite—
    There lies the seat of the aching.

    They have been lovers, in days gone by;
    But the soul is fickle, and longs to fly
    From the fettering misalliance:
    And she tears at the bonds which are binding her so,
    And pleads with the body to let her go,
    But he will not yield compliance.

    For the body loves, as he loved in the past
    When he wedded the soul; and he holds her fast,
    And swears that he will not loose her;
    That he will keep her and hide her away
    For ever and ever and for a day
    From the arms of Death, the seducer.

    Ah! this is the strife that is wearying me—
    The strife 'twixt a soul that would be free
    And a body that will not let her.
    And I say to my soul, "Be calm, and wait;
    For I tell ye truly that soon or late
    Ye surely shall drop each fetter."

    And I say to the body, "Be kind, I pray;
    For the soul is not of thy mortal clay,
    But is formed in spirit fashion."
    And still through the hours of the solemn night
    I can hear my sad soul's plea for flight,
    And my body's reply of passion.

  6. Twin-Born

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    He who possesses virtue at its best,
    Or greatness in the true sense of the word,
    Has one day started even with that herd
    Whose swift feet now speed, but at sin's behest.
    It is the same force in the human breast
    Which makes men gods or demons. If we gird
    Those strong emotions by which we are stirred
    With might of will and purpose, heights unguessed
    Shall dawn for us; or if we give them sway
    We can sink down and consort with the lost.
    All virtue is worth just the price it cost.
    Black sin is oft white truth, that missed its way,
    And wandered off in paths not understood.
    Twin-born I hold great evil and great good.

  7. Just a Nail

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Once a captain, homeward bound,
    In a startled moment found
    He was running on to land,
    And the shoals were close at hand:
    Sudden sight and sudden shout,
    And the ship was turned about.

    Steering by the compass, he
    Thought himself far out at sea;
    But the astonished captain learned
    That the needle had been turned
    By a nail some carpenter
    Heedless drove, and left it there.

    So with many a gallant ship
    On our life-long ocean trip;
    Ah, what fatal wreck has been
    Where a single tiny sin
    With its steady, sure control
    Turned the compass of the soul!

  8. The Chapel in the Heart

    by Selena Ware Paine

    Thrice happy is the man who keeps,
    From other things apart,
    A secret room, a holy place,
    A chapel in his heart.

    For there, when all the world outside
    Grows dark upon his sight,
    He can retire and find within
    His chapel full of light.

    And there, when jangling sounds of earth,
    Discordant, fill his ear,
    He can repair and, listening,
    The eternal music hear.

    And there, from praise and blame unjust,
    Alone, he can confess,
    In genuine humility,
    His own unworthiness.

    And there, when golden in his way,
    Temptation spreads a snare,
    Before he falters, he can flee
    For refuge and for prayer.

    Thrice happy is the man who keeps
    From other things apart
    This secret room, this holy place,
    This chapel in his heart.