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Motivational Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Be the Best of Whatever You Are by Douglas Malloch
  2. Keep Going by Edgar A. Guest
  3. Equipment by Edgar A. Guest
  4. In Goodness is True Greatness by Helen M. Johnson
  5. Count That Day Lost by George Eliot
  6. See It Through by Edgar A. Guest
  7. Land On Your Feet by Sam Walter Foss
  8. Mountain Tops by Katherine F. Stone Cook

  1. Be the Best of Whatever You Are

    by Douglas Malloch

    If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
    Be a scrub in the valley—but be
    The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
    Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

    If you can't be a bush be a bit of the grass,
    And some highway happier make;
    If you can't be a muskie then just be a bass—
    But the liveliest bass in the lake!

    We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
    There's something for all of us here,
    There's big work to do, and there's lesser to do,
    And the task you must do is the near.

    If you can't be a highway then just be a trail,
    If you can't be the sun be a star;
    It isn't by size that you win or you fail—
    Be the best of whatever you are!

  2. Keep Going

    by Edgar A. Guest

    When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
    When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
    When the funds are low and the debts are high,
    And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
    When care is pressing you down a bit,
    Rest if you must—but don’t you quit.

    Life is queer with its twists and turns,
    As every one of us sometimes learns,
    And many a failure turns about
    When he might have won had he stuck it out;
    Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow—
    You may succeed with another blow.

    Often the goal is nearer than
    It seems to a faint and faltering man,
    Often the struggler has given up
    When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
    And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
    How close he was to the golden crown.

    Success is failure turned inside out—
    The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
    And you never can tell how close you are,
    It may be near when it seems afar;
    So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
    It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

  3. Equipment

    by Edgar A. Guest

    Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
    You've all that the greatest of men have had,
    Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
    And a brain to use if you would be wise.
    With this equipment they all began,
    So start for the top and say "I can."

    Look them over, the wise and great,
    They take their food from a common plate
    And similar knives and forks they use,
    With similar laces they tie their shoes,
    The world considers them brave and smart.
    But you've all they had when they made their start.

    You can triumph and come to skill,
    You can be great if only you will,
    You're well equipped for what fight you choose,
    You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
    And the man who has risen, great deeds to do
    Began his life with no more than you.

    You are the handicap you must face,
    You are the one who must choose your place,
    You must say where you want to go.
    How much you will study the truth to know,
    God has equipped you for life, But He
    Lets you decide what you want to be.

    Courage must come from the soul within,
    The man must furnish the will to win,
    So figure it out for yourself, my lad,
    You were born with all that the great have had,
    With your equipment they all began.
    Get hold of yourself, and say: "I can."

  4. In Goodness is True Greatness

    by Helen M. Johnson

    I touch the spring—and lo, a face
    Which for these many years
    Within my heart has had a place,
    A tender place—appears.

    The large dark eyes look up to mine,
    So like thyself!—the cheek,
    The brow, the features, all are thine:
    Speak to me, brother, speak!

    And tell me of each grief and care:
    For be they great or small,
    A sister's heart would take a share—
    And, if it could, take all!

    And tell me of each hopeful plan,
    And how the future seems,—
    Oh, may that future to the man
    Be all the boy now dreams.

    I've heard thee say thou wouldst be great,
    And with the gifted shine;
    'T is well; but there's a nobler fate,
    I pray it may be thine:

    It is to be an honest man,—
    To elevate thy race,
    And like the good Samaritan
    Do good in every place;

    To struggle bravely for the right,
    Though kings defend the wrong;
    To live as in thy Maker's sight,
    And in his strength be strong;

    To put the spotless garment on,
    To keep it pure and white,
    And when the endless day shall dawn
    Receive a crown of light.

    Dear brother, fame is but a breath,
    So I implore for thee
    A holy life, a happy death,
    A blest eternity.

  5. See It Through

    by Edgar Albert Guest

    When you’re up against a trouble,
    Meet it squarely, face to face;
    Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
    Plant your feet and take a brace.
    When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
    Do the best that you can do;
    You may fail, but you may conquer,
    See it through!

    Black may be the clouds about you
    And your future may seem grim,
    But don’t let your nerve desert you;
    Keep yourself in fighting trim.
    If the worst is bound to happen,
    Spite of all that you can do,
    Running from it will not save you,
    See it through!

    Even hope may seem but futile,
    When with troubles you’re beset,
    But remember you are facing
    Just what other men have met.
    You may fail, but fall still fighting;
    Don’t give up, whate’er you do;
    Eyes front, head high to the finish.
    See it through!

  6. Land On Your Feet

    by Sam Walter Foss

    You take a cat up by the tail,
    And whirl him round and round,
    And hurl him out into the air,
    Out in to space profound,
    He through the yielding atmosphere
    Will many awhirl complete;
    But when he strikes upon the ground
    He'll land upon his feet.

    Fate takes a man, just like a cat,
    And, with more force than grace,
    It whirls him wiggling round and round,
    And hurls him into space;
    And those that fall upon the back,
    Or land upon the head,
    Fate lets them lie there where they fall—
    They're just as good as dead.

    But some there be that, like the cat,
    Whirl round and round and round,
    And go gyrating off through space,
    Until they strike the ground;
    But when at last the ground and they
    Do really come to meet,
    You'll always find them right side up—
    They land upon their feet.

    And such a man walks off erect,
    Triumphant and elate,
    And with a courage in his heart
    He shakes his fist at fate;
    Then fate with a benignant smile
    Upon its face outspread,
    Puts forth its soft, caressing hand
    And pats him on the head.

    And he's fate's darling from that day,
    His triumph is complete;
    Fate loves the m an who whirls and whirls,
    But lands upon his feet.
    That man, whate'er his ups and downs,
    Is never wholly spurned,
    Whose perpendicularity
    Is never overturned.

  7. Mountain Tops

    by Katherine F. Stone Cook

    The grand old mountains lift their granite heads
    Beneath the sun, and rain, and arching sky;
    Each dawning sunrise finds them still the same,
    Unmoved, unchanged, unchangeable for aye.

    The storms of winter and the summer's dew
    Alike unheeded leave their destined trace,
    But still unmoved, in grand simplicity,
    Each calmly fills its own appointed place.

    The tufted mosses weave their slender web,
    As if to tone and soften those stern lines,
    And out from many a crevice fringes float
    Of hardy rock-ferns and gay columbines.

    Who knows what converse these may nightly hold
    With yonder stars, their glorious compeers?
    Perchance, when all the world is hushed in sleep,
    They listen to the music of the spheres.

    Climb then, and stand upon the mountain tops,
    In that pure upper air, and breathe thy song,
    Or from its base look upward to the heights,
    And in the shadow of their strength, grow strong.

    Then lift again the burdens of the day,
    But bear them with a broader, higher aim,
    Live with your heart upon the mountain tops,
    Although your feet must tread the dusty plain.

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