And you have failed, O Poet? Sad!
?Yet failures are a commonplace.
Boast not as though you only had
?Secured a failure in the race.
You see them thick on every hand
?As blackberries; but you, you say,
Because your nature was so grand,
?Have failed in a peculiar way.
You weep: ‘I had such lofty aims.
?My soul had yearnings truly great.
Than broken altars, dying flames,
?I had deserved a better fate.
And others gain my heart's desire
?They win the prize I vainly crave;
And they will set the Thames on fire
?When I am mouldering in my grave.’
What matter, yet? The years of blight
?The fair and laughing seasons bring—
And if you flee or if you fight,
?It is a very little thing.
Small anguish have you undergone,
?Poor fool, to write, with careful art,
Your melancholy sonnets on,
?When some, to fail, would break the heart!
Go, look into some dingy street
?Your mood æsthetic scorns to pace.
Mark well the throng; you will not meet
?One happy or one careless face.
Have these not failed, on whom the rain
?Strikes cheerless from the sky of grey?
No lurking comfort in their pain
?Of subtle self-esteem have they.
They live their wasted lives, and die,
?Nor much their destiny bewail,
While you to all the world must cry:
?‘Alas, but see how I can fail!
Compassionate my fruitless tears,
?Peruse the volumes of my woes,
The burden of my blighted years,
?In metre some, and some in prose!’
You fail? Then take it at the worst.
?Shall some not gloriously succeed?
Ah, waive awhile your lot accurst,
?To triumph in a noble deed!
Nay, but you grudge the victory,
?Nor heed how the hard fight prevailed.
Through Time's exulting harmony
?You shriek, ‘Alas, but I have failed !’
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