Friday, May 23, 2008

In our youth we picture ourselves as we will be in the future -- not mere types of this or that kind of success, but above all and in all, Ideal Men. Then come the years and struggles, and we are buffeted and baffled, and our very ideal is eclipsed. But others have done better than we. Weary and harassed, they yet embody our visions. And we, if we are worth our salt, do not envy them when we see them. Nor should we grow dispirited. Rather should we rejoice in their triumph, rejoice that our dreams were not impossibilities, take courage to strive afresh for that which we know is best.

"I knew his face the moment that he passed

Triumphant in the thoughtless, cruel throng,--

Triumphant, though the quiet, tired eyes

Showed that his soul had suffered overlong.

And though across his brow faint lines of care

Were etched, somewhat of Youth still lingered there.

I gently touched his arm -- he smiled at me --

He was the Man that once I Meant to Be!

Where I had failed, he'd won from life, Success;

Where I had stumbled, with sure feet he stood;

Alike -- yet unalike -- we faced the world,

And through the stress he found that life was good

And I? The bitter wormwood in the glass,

The shadowed way along which failures pass!

Yet as I saw him thus, joy came to me --

He was the Man that Once I Meant to Be!

I knew him! And I knew he knew me for

The man He might have been. Then did his soul

Thank silently the gods that gave him strength

To win, while I so sorely missed the goal?

He turned, and quickly in his own firm hand

He took my own -- the gulf of Failure spanned,.....

And that was all -- strong, self-reliant, free,

He was the Man that Once I Meant to Be!

We did not speak. But in his sapient eyes

I saw the spirit that had urged him on,

The courage that had held him through the fight

Had once been mine, I thought, "Can it be gone?"

He felt that unasked question -- felt it so

His pale lips formed the one-word answer, "No!"

Too late to win? No! Not too late for me --

He is the Man that Still I Mean to be!

Everard Jack Appleton -- Photo by Lyubomir Bukov

No comments: