new zealand electronic poetry centre

Lola Ridge

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The Body and its Master

Thou that I deemed my sure asset,
      The bulwark of my will,
Have flouted me – but know me yet
      Thy law inflexible.

And resolute and calm I wait,
      Obey, weak, trembling hands;
Be strong, reliant, sure, and straight,
      ’Tis I – thy soul – commands!

Think not, dim eyes, that ache and burn,
      And brain that reels for rest,
To shake my purpose, fixed and stern,
      Or turn me from my quest.

Weak flesh that craves for false delights,
      Deniest thou my creed?
In days of toil and sleepless nights
      Thou shalt forget thy need.

I know upon the shining plain
      ’Twere sweet to lie at ease,
With limbs relaxed and drowsing brain,
      To dream of heights like these;

Of sinews tense, and sobbing breath,
      And yawning chasms crost,
Where to the snow-bound sleep were death;
      And rest a foothold lost.

But know, for us the ways are bleak,
      Thou puling voice, be still!
No more irresolute and weak,
      Arise, and work my will.



‘The Body and its Master,’ Town and Country Journal 9 Aug 1905: 22.
See also Verses 1905: 53.

Last updated 29 May, 2013