Wednesday, February 05, 2014



James Henry (1798-1876), Poems Chiefly Philosophical (Dresden: C.C. Meinhold and Sons, 1856), p. 129 (untitled; accents omitted):
Dire Ambition up hill toiling,
Straining every nerve and sinew,
Sweating, panting, taking no rest,
Dire Ambition, listen to me.

Highest climbers get the worst falls,
On the hill-top storms blow fiercest,
Lightning oftenest strikes the summits,
Dire Ambition, turn and come down.

In the valley here it's sheltered,
Easy, safe and sure and pleasant;
On those steep heights there's scarce footing,
I grow dizzy to look at thee.

Higher still thou climb'st and higher,
Lendest no ear, look'st not once down;
Almost in the clouds I see thee,
Far above the reach of my words.

Fare thee well then — only fall not —
And as happy be above there,
If thou canst, as I below here
In the calm, sequestered valley.

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