“Defeat” by Kahlil Gibran

Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness;
You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,
And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory.

Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,
Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot
And not to be trapped by withering laurels.
And in you I have found aloneness
And the joy of being shunned and scorned.

Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword and shield,
In your eyes I have read
That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,
And to be understood is to be leveled down,
And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness
And like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed.

Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion,
You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences,
And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings,
And urging of seas,
And of mountains that burn in the night,
And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul.

Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,
You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.

“A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Video from RedFrost Motivation. Many other excellent videos there.

“The Lamb” by William Blake

John Tavener’s arrangement of “The Lamb,” a poem written by William Blake in the late 18th century, touched me deeply this Christmas season. See lyrics below. This is the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge singing Tavener’s arrangement in 2014.

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee.
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

William Blake was an English Romantic poet and painter who lived from 1757 until 1827. This poem was first published in Songs of Innocence in 1789.

[First posted in May 2010. Thanks to Paul S. for sharing a link to a 2008 recording of King’s Choir. ]

A Book of Possibilities

Painting of a girl by a stream, surrounded by orbs, by Gilbert Williams

There was a girl
by a stream
who wrote a book
of possibilities.
She left her heart
on every page.

She painted the world
with a palette of stars
and a canvas of
earth and sky.

And she sang a secret hymn
to the trees and the flowers
and the birds—
a song only she could sing—
and the stars heard
her song, a song
pure in heart.

And Heaven was
very near to her,
the home of her
dearest Friends,
and she loved
every living thing
and knew all their
names by heart.

Michael James Fitzgerald

Dashing Down the Aisles

Santa pushing a shopping cart.To the tune of “Jingle Bells.”

Dashing down the aisles,
with a three-wheeled shopping cart.
I always wait too long.
It isn’t very smart.

Cash registers ring,
Making wallets light.
Oh what a thrill it is to be
shopping late tonight.

Oh, I feel bad, my family’s mad,
I think I’ve lost my mind.
Too late to shop on Amazon
I’m always way behind. Hey!

Full of  doubt, all stressed out
The time has slipped away.
What a drag it is to shop
the brick-and-mortar way.

Michael James Fitzgerald

I Don’t

“I Don’t” from Goldendate [Washington] Sentinel, Oct. 24 1918
My parents told me not to smoke—
I don’t;
Nor listen to a naughty joke—
I don’t.
They made it plain I must not wink
At pretty girls, or even think
About intoxicating drink—
I don’t.

To dance and flirt is very wrong—
I don’t.
Wild youths chase women, wine and song—
I don’t.
I kiss no girls, not even one—
I do not know how it is done—
You wouldn’t think I had much fun—
I DON’T.

Author Unknown

From “I Don’t,” Goldendale [Washington] Sentinel, October 24, 1918, page 1. (Cited here.)