The Inner Room

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The Inner Room
by Arthur Conan Doyle

It is mine--the little chamber,
      Mine alone.
I had it from my forbears
      Years agone.
Yet within its walls I see
A most motley company,
And they one and all claim me
      As their own.

There's one who is a soldier
      Bluff and keen;
Single-minded, heavy-fisted,
      Rude of mien.
He would gain a purse or stake it,
He would win a heart or break it,
He would give a life or take it,
      Conscience-clean.

And near him is a priest
      Still schism-whole;
He loves the censer-reek
      And organ-roll.
He has leanings to the mystic,
Sacramental, eucharistic;
And dim yearnings altruistic
      Thrill his soul.

There's another who with doubts
      Is overcast;
I think him younger brother
      To the last.
Walking wary stride by stride,
Peering forwards anxious-eyed,
Since he learned to doubt his guide
      In the past.

And 'mid them all, alert,
      But somewhat cowed,
There sits a stark-faced fellow,
      Beetle-browed,
Whose black soul shrinks away
From a lawyer-ridden day,
And has thoughts he dare not say
      Half avowed.

There are others who are sitting,
      Grim as doom,
In the dim ill-boding shadow
      Of my room.
Darkling figures, stern or quaint,
Now a savage, now a saint,
Showing fitfully and faint
      Through the gloom.

And those shadows are so dense,
      There may be
Many--very many--more
      Than I see.
They are sitting day and night
Soldier, rogue, and anchorite;
And they wrangle and they fight
      Over me.

If the stark-faced fellow win,
      All is o'er!
If the priest should gain his will
      I doubt no more!
But if each shall have his day,
I shall swing and I shall sway
In the same old weary way
      As before.