If you cannot on the ocean
Sail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows,
Laughing at the storms you meet;
You can stand among the sailors,
Anchored yet within the bay,
You can lend a hand to help them
As they launch their boats away.
If you cannot in the harvest
Garner up the richest sheaves,
Many a grain, both ripe and golden,
Oft the careless reaper leaves;
Go and glean among the briars
Growing rank against the wall,
For it may be that their shadow
Hides the heaviest grain of all.
If you cannot in the conflict
Prove yourself a soldier true;
If, where fire and smoke are thickest,
There's no work for you to do;
When the battle field is silent,
You can go with a careful tread;
And bear away the wounded,
You can cover up the dead.
Do not then stand idly waiting
For some greater work to do;
Fortune is a lazy goddess,
She will never come to you;
Go and toil in any vineyard,
Do not fear to do and dare,
If you want a field of labor
You can find it anywhere.
Ellen M.H. Gates.