The Inner Room

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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,

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,
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.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1930, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.