Alfred Edward Housman


More Poems. 4. The Sage to the Young Man


O youth whose heart is right,
        Whose loins are girt to gain
The hell-defended height
        Where Virtue beckons plain;

Who seest the stark array
        And hast not stayed to count
But singly wilt assay
        The many-cannoned mount:

Well is thy war begun;
        Endure, be strong and strive;
But think not, O my son,
        To save thy soul alive.

Wilt thou be true and just
        And clean and kind and brave?
Well; but for all thou dost,
        Be sure it shall not save.

Thou, when the night falls deep,
        Thou, though the mount be won,
High heart, thou shalt but sleep
        The sleep denied to none.

Others, or ever thou,
        To scale those heights were sworn;
And some achieved, but now
        They never see the morn.

How shouldst thou keep the prize?
        Thou wast not born for aye.
Content thee if thine eyes
        Behold it in thy day.

O youth that wilt attain,
        On, for thine hour is short.
It may be thou shalt gain
        The hell-defended fort.




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