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Poem by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
The Desire of Fame
Written at the age of thirty. I do confess that I have wish'd to give My land the gift of no ignoble name. And in that holier air have sought to live, Sunn'd with the hope of Fame. Do I lament that I have seen the bays Denied my own, not worthier brows above,-- Foes quick to scoff, and friends afraid to praise,-- More active hate than love? Do I lament that roseate youth has flown In the hard labour grudged its niggard meed, And cull from far and juster lands alone Few flowers from many a seed? No! for whoever with an earnest soul Strives for some end from this low world afar, Still upward travels, though he miss the goal, And strays--but towards a star. Better than fame is still the wish for fame, The constant training for a glorious strife: The athlete nurtured for the Olympian Game Gains strength at least for life. The wish for Fame is faith in holy things That soothe the life, and shall outlive the tomb-- A reverent listening for some angel wings That cower above the gloom. To gladden earth with beauty, or men's lives To serve with action, or their souls with truth,-- These are the ends for which the hope survives The ignobler thirsts of youth. No, I lament not, though these leaves may fall From the sered branches on the desert plain, Mock'd by the idle winds that waft; and all Life's blooms, its last, in vain! If vain for others, not in vain for me,-- Who builds an altar let him worship there; What needs the crowd? though lone the shrine may be, Not hallow'd less the prayer. Eno' if haply in the after days, When by the altar sleeps the funeral stone, When gone the mists our human passions raise, And Truth is seen alone: When causeless Hate can wound its prey no more, And fawns its late repentance o'er the dead, If gentle footsteps from some kindlier shore Pause by the narrow bed. Or if yon children, whose young sounds of glee Float to mine ear the evening gales along, Recall some echo, in their years to be, Of not all-perish'd song! Taking some spark to glad the hearth, or light The student lamp, from now neglected fires,-- And one sad memory in the sons requite What--I forgive the sires.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton's other poems:
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