As we gaze up life’s slope, as we gaze
In the morn, ere the dewdrops are dry,
What splendour hangs over the ways,
What glory gleams there in the sky,
What pleasures seem waiting us, high
On the peak of that beauteous slope,
What rainbow-hued colours of hope,
As we gaze!
As we climb up the hill, as we climb,
Our hearts, our illusions, are rent:
For Fate, who is spouse of old Time,
Is jealous of youth and content.
With brows that are brooding and bent
She shadows our sunlight of gold,
And the way grows lonely and cold
As we climb.
As we toil on, through trouble and pain,
There are hands that will shelter and feed;
But once let us dare to ATTAIN –
They will bruise our bare hearts till they bleed.
‘Tis the worst of all crimes to succeed,
Know this as ye feast on a crust,
Know this in the darkness and dust,
Ye who climb.
As we stand on the heights of success,
Lo! success seems as sad as defeat!
Through the lives we may succour and bless
Alone may its litter turn sweet!
And the world lying there at our feet,
With its cavilling praise and its sneer,
We must pity, condone, but not hear,
Where we stand.
As we live on those heights, we must live
With the courage and pride of a god;
For the world, it has nothing to give
But the scourge of the lash and the rod.
Our thoughts must be noble and broad,
Our purpose must challenge men’s gaze,
While we seek not their blame or their praise
As we live.
–Ella Wheeler Wilcox