Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
VI. Human Experience
Dallying with Temptation
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834)
From the First Part of “Wallenstein,” Act III. Sc. 4.

WALLENSTEIN  (in soliloquy).  Is it possible?
Is ’t so? I can no longer what I would!
No longer draw back at my liking! I
Must do the deed, because I thought of it,
And fed this heart here with a dream! Because        5
I did not scowl temptation from my presence,
Dallied with thought of possible fulfilment,
Commenced no movement, left all time uncertain,
And only kept the road, the access open!
By the great God of Heaven! It was not        10
My serious meaning, it was ne’er resolve.
I but amused myself with thinking of it.
The free-will tempted me, the power to do
Or not to do it.—Was it criminal
To make the fancy minister to hope,        15
To fill the air with pretty toys of air,
And clutch fantastic sceptres moving t’ward me?
Was not the will kept free? Beheld I not
The road of duty clear beside me—but
One little step and once more I was in it!        20
Where am I? Whither have I been transported?
No road, no track behind one, but a wall,
Impenetrable, insurmountable,
Rises obedient to the spells I muttered
And meant not—my own doings tower behind me.        25

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