Ballade of Complaint against the Vagrant Life

I sicken of the campfire's glow
Which turns a ghost before the day;
The leaf that dawdles to and fro
Soon changes green for graveyard grey
Though for a while it lift and play
Clothed like a king in gold and red. . . .
Cast into jails, unhoused, half-fed,
How can I climb (though I be fain
Of stars that beckon overhead),
To heights the master minds attain?

The moving seas where great winds blow
I love indeed—yet I gainsay
Those slant-stacked ships that smoking go
And leave behind a foamy way
A bull-necked captain to obey
Or mate who leaves no curse unsaid—
Such is the life by seamen led
Despite the dreams romancers feign;
And who can climb, with heart of dread,
To heights the master minds attain?

The burnt-out lamp that gutters low
Casts on a songless page its ray,
Nor can the poet, drawn with woe,
To penury and want a prey,
In his cold attic build that lay

That lives when he who sang is dead;
A thousand worries throng, instead,
The gloomy twilight of his brain. . . .
How can one rise, sore-pinched for bread,
To heights the master minds attain?

Thus I, to mighty visions wed,
Drop twenty shafts before they're sped,
Shoot twenty more that fly in vain. . . .
Nor may I climb, though greatly led,
To heights the master minds attain.
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