Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AMBITION, by HERBERT KAUFMAN



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AMBITION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Mine is the shrine of the far-flung dare
Last Line: Crowns for the heads of kings I shape.
Subject(s): Ambition


MINE is the shrine of the far-flung dare,
Mine are the priests who make no prayer,
Deaf am I to the poltroon's wail,
Smile when you win and smile when you fail,
Smile when you stagger beneath the flail,
Smile when the wolf gnaws on your soul,
For only the dauntless shall reach his goal.
Cynics and pulings and cowards I hate,
He who brings doubt calls in vain at my gate;
Fear you may never file into a key,
You must come eager and dogged to me.
Smile when your heart-chords strain,
Smile when you throb with pain;
Smile when all hope is vain.
Strong must my lovers be,
Straight backed and straight of knee,
Cuirassed in tempered will;
Fighting the fight until
Tendon and brain and thew,
Outworn, pulped, black and blue,
Lashed on, still strive anew.
I am Ambition. See
What men have done for me!
Out of the master-maw, brutal and bare and raw,
Stick, stone and stream—no more—
That was the Earth before
I came to urge and teach.
I bade you rise and reach,
I called and fires flamed,
I called and beasts were tamed,
I called and swords were made,
I called and walls were laid;
Hear me and learn of fame,
Fear me and burn with shame,
Doubt me and flout me and pay the cost,
When Ambition deserts you then all is lost.
Rough are the roads that I bid you go,
Bitter and hard is my code, I know;
But ready am I to bestow full meed
Of honor on him who achieves. In deed
Alone is the proof of the sterner breed.
Gems in the womb of the earth I hide,
Gold in the clefts of the mountain side,
Glory with shadows and hunger I mask,
Nothing grant I to the weaklings who ask,
Nothing Lave I for the quitters who whine,
The cheat and the idler gain nothing of mine.
But for the chosen, the valorous few,
Who dream far and dare far and fare far and do,
Rising and falling and rising anew,
Stars from the brow of Night I rape,
Crowns for the heads of kings I shape.





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