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Though to all there is not given
Strength for such sublime endeavor, Thus to scale the walls of heaven, And to leaven with fiery leaven
All the hearts of men for ever;
Yet all bards, whose hearts unblighted
Honor and believe the presage, Hold aloft their torches lighted, Gleaming through the realms benighted,
As they onward bear the message !
THE LADDER OF ST. AUGUSTINE.
SAINT AUGUSTINE! well hast thou said,
That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
Beneath our feet each deed of shame!
All common things, each day's events,
That with the hour begin and end, Our pleasures and our discontents,
Are rounds by which we may ascend.
The low desire, the base design,
That makes another's virtues less; The revel of the treacherous wine,
And all occasions of excess ;
The longing for ignoble things;
The strife for triumph more than truth; The hardening of the heart, that brings
Irreverence for the dreams of youth;
All thoughts of ill; all evil deeds,
That have their root in thoughts of ill; Whatever hinders or impedes
The action of the nobler will;
All these must first be trampled down
Beneath our feet, if we would gain In the bright fields of fair renown
The right of eminent domain.
We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb By slow degrees, by more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.
The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs, When nearer seen, and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs.
The distant mountains, that uprear
Their solid bastions to the skies, Are crossed by pathways, that appear
As we to higher levels rise.
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight, But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.