It was not when temptation came, Swiftly and blastingly as flame, And seared me white with burning scars; When I stood up for age-long wars And held the very Fiend at grips; When all my mutinous body rose To range itself beside my foes, And, like a greyhound in the slips, The Beast that dwells within me roared, Lunging and straining at his cord. . . . For all the blusterings of Hell, It was not then I slipped and fell; For all the storm, for all the hate, I kept my soul inviolate!
But when the fight was fought and won, And there was Peace as still as Death On everything beneath the sun. Just as I started to draw breath, And yawn, and stretch, and pat myself, -- The grass began to whisper things -- And every tree became an elf, That grinned and chuckled counsellings: Birds, beasts, one thing alone they said, Beating and dinning at my head. I could not fly. I could not shun it. Slimily twisting, slow and blind, It crept and crept into my mind. Whispered and shouted, sneered and laughed, Screamed out until my brain was daft. . . . One snaky word, "What if you'd done it?"
And I began to think . . . Ah, well, What matter how I slipped and fell? Or you, you gutter-searcher say! Tell where you found me yesterday!