Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE RUNNERS, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE RUNNERS, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Limbs that falter and fail to guide us
Last Line: "I am goal and laure! The prize is -- peace!"
Subject(s): Conduct Of Life; Peace; God

Limbs that falter and fail to guide us,
Eyes that are blind to the shining goal --
We have striven, Lord, and our minds deride us,
Shaken of body and sick of soul.
Wilt thou hear us now as we stagger on?
The race is run -- but the goal is gone.

Fleet from the start like a cleaving sabre,
Our course lay straight and we laughed for strength.
Forth from the ruck where the weaklings labor,
Well to the forefront we won at length.
Wilt thou hearken now to our gasping cries?
Who lied of a prize where there is no prize?

We passed them by who fell spent or meanly
Dropped from the running, or gazed and sneered.
Still laughed our blood and our limbs moved cleanly.
Well worth the strife was the goal we neared.
Now, Lord, thou hast sealed our eyes from light.
Is the end but night -- is the end but night?

Others might lag -- we were born for running.
Others might dally -- for us the race!
We have striven fairly, no trial shunning,
And now on our hope thou hast veiled thy face.
If our hope mistook, canst thou blame us, Lord?
Thou hast taken from us our just reward!

Then the voice of the Lord from his cloud of fire:
"To each have I shown the bounds that be,
Yet goals ye seek and to crowns aspire.
Joy ye not in the striving that ends with Me?
Shaped I man not to strive and to shun release?
I am goal and laure! The prize is -- Peace!"

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