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Poems About Ambition

Table of Contents

  1. Aspiration by Emily Dickinson
  2. The Ambitious Kangaroo by Anonymous
  3. The Ambitious Ant by Anonymous
  4. "The Starry Midnight Whispers" by Bliss Carman
  5. Goals by Amos Russel Wells
  6. The Aim by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  7. He Who Has Vision by Folger McKinsey
  8. A Warm House and a Ruddy Fire by Edgar A. Guest
  9. I Will Be Worthy of It by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  10. The Key to Success by Robin A. Walker
  11. Poplars in the Wind by Angela Morgan
  12. Resolution by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  13. My Creed by Edgar A. Guest
  14. Each Life Converges to some Centre (or The Goal) by Emily Dickinson

  1. Aspiration

    by Emily Dickinson

    We never know how high we are
    Till we are called to rise;
    And then, if we are true to plan,
    Our statures touch the skies.

    The heroism we recite
    Would be a daily thing,
    Did not ourselves the cubits warp
    For fear to be a king.

  2. The Ambitious Kangaroo

    by Amos Russel Wells

    They held a great meeting a king to select.
    And the kangaroo rose in a dignified way.
    And said, "I'm the one you should surely elect,
    For I can out-leap every beast here today."
    Said the eagle, "How high can you climb toward the sky?"
    Said the nightingale, "Favor us, please, with a song."
    Said the hawk, "Let us measure our powers of eye!"
    Said the lion, "Come, wrestle and prove you are strong!"
    But the kangaroo sald, "It would surely be best,
    In our choice of a king, to make leaping the test!"

  3. The Ambitious Ant

    by Amos Russel Wells

    The ambitious ant would a-travelling go
    To see the pyramid's wonderful show.
    He crossed a brook and a field of rye,
    And came to the foot of a haystack high.
    "Ah! wonderful pyramid!" then cried he;
    "How glad I am that I crossed the sea!"

  4. "The Starry Midnight Whispers"

    "Life has no other logic,
    And time no other creed,
    Than: 'I for joy will follow.
    Where thou for love dost lead!"

    – Bliss Carman
    The Starry Midnight Whispers
    by Bliss Carman

    The starry midnight whispers,
    As I muse before the fire
    On the ashes of ambition
    And the embers of desire,

    "Life has no other logic,
    And time no other creed,
    Than: 'I for joy will follow.
    Where thou for love dost lead!"

  5. Goals

    But happy he whose honest mind,
    With all he loves and all he can,
    Is dedicated to mankind,
    And seeks the common good of man.

    – Amos R. Wells
    by Amos Russel Wells

    Deep in the horrors of the North,
    With gleaming eyes and steady soul
    Heroes compel their passage forth
    To pierce the mystery of the pole.

    Superb their passion, hold their aim,
    But ah, what barren goals suffice!—
    The echo of an empty fame,
    The conquest of a league of ice!

    Comrades of clouds along the air
    Speeding the way Columbus went,
    Oh, latest Argonauts, that dare
    The one unmastered element!

    And yet what needless heroes they,
    Venturing life to find us wings,
    That men may have one other way
    To roam on fruitless wanderings!

    With patient eyes the long still night,
    Sages through starry jungles grope,
    Happy, if some new speck of light
    Fall on the fortunate telescope.

    Their name is catalogued with it,
    The sky has one more charted spot;
    But no more lights on earth are lit,
    And star and sage are soon forgot.

    Ah, happy he whose ardent goal
    Within the human spirit lies.
    Who in the regions of the soul
    Embarks on daring enterprise!

    Dangers are there that arctic sea
    And tropic desert never know,
    Tempests of passion fierce and free,
    Waves of despair and gulfs of woe.

    And wings are there that soar and fly
    Above the snarling of the storm,
    To sunny reaches of the sky
    Where life is light and love is warm.

    And there are galaxies afar,
    World beyond world in endless range,
    Where never imperfections mar,
    And never gladness fears a change.

    Not in the realm of braggart gold
    And crowns that glitter to the eye,
    Are meeds that bless and joys that hold
    And purposes that satisfy.

    But happy he whose honest mind,
    With all he loves and all he can,
    Is dedicated to mankind,
    And seeks the common good of man.

  6. The Aim

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    O thou who lovest not alone
    The swift success, the instant goal,
    But hast a lenient eye to mark
    The failures of th' inconstant soul,

    Consider not my little worth,—
    The mean achievement, scamped in act,
    The high resolve and low result,
    The dream that durst not face the fact.

    But count the reach of my desire.
    Let this be something in Thy sight:—
    I have not, in the slothful dark,
    Forgot the Vision and the Height.

    Neither my body nor my soul
    To earth's low ease will yield consent.
    I praise Thee for my will to strive.
    I bless Thy goad of discontent.

  7. He Who Has Vision

    by Folger McKinsey

    He who has the vision sees more than you or I;
    He who lives the golden dream lives fourfold thereby;
    Time may scoff and worlds may laugh, hosts assail his thought,
    But the visionary came ere the builders wrought;
    Ere the tower bestrode the dome, ere the dome the arch,
    He, the dreamer of the dream, saw the vision march!

    He who has the vision hears more than you may hear,
    Unseen lips from unseen worlds are bent unto his ear;
    From the hills beyond the clouds messages are borne,
    Drifting on the dews of dream to his heart of morn;
    Time awaits and ages stay till he wakes and shows
    Glimpses of the larger life that his vision knows!

    He who has the vision feels more than you may feel,
    Joy beyond the narrow joy in whose realm we reel—
    For he knows the stars are glad, dawn and middleday,
    In the jocund tide that sweeps dark and dusk away,
    He who has the vision lives round and all complete,
    And through him alone we draw dews from combs of sweet.

    Where there is no vision the people perish.

    – Proverbs 29:17
    The Bible, KJV
  8. Doing Nothing

    by William Henry Dawson

    The hardest job I've ever tried,
    In summer, winter, spring or fall,
    Whether alone or by the side
    Of helpers—matters not at all—
    Is doing nothing.

    Just think of having not a thing
    On earth to busy hand or brain.
    I know not of a sharper sting,
    Nor one 'twould give me keener pain
    Than doing nothing.

    Just eat and sleep and mope around;
    No good deed done, no kind word said,
    No darkened corner sought or found,
    Where sunshine might with ease be shed—
    Just doing nothing.

    Kind Fate, spare me from such a lot.
    I'd sooner, far, be numbered with
    The silent sleepers in some spot
    Where naught is known of kin or kith,
    Than doing nothing.

  9. A Warm House and a Ruddy Fire

    by Edgar A. Guest

    A warm house and a ruddy fire,
    To what more can man aspire?
    Eyes that shine with love aglow,
    Is there more for man to know?

    Whether home be rich or poor,
    If contentment mark the door
    He who finds it good to live
    Has the best that life can give.

    This the end of mortal strife!
    Peace at night to sweeten life,
    Rest when mind and body tire,
    At contentment's ruddy fire.

    Rooms where merry songs are sung,
    Happy old and glorious young;
    These, if perfect peace be known,
    Both the rich and poor must own.

    A warm house and a ruddy fire,
    These the goals of all desire,
    These the dream of every man
    Since God spoke and life began.

  10. I Will Be Worthy of It

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    I may not reach the heights I seek,
    My untried strength may fail me;
    Or, half-way up the mountain peak,
    Fierce tempests may assail me.
    But though that place I never gain,
    Herein lies comfort for my pain—
    I will be worthy of it.

    I may not triumph in success,
    Despite my earnest labor;
    I may not grasp results that bless
    The efforts of my neighbor;
    But though my goal I never see
    This thought shall always dwell with me—
    I will be worthy of it.

    The golden glory of Love's light
    May never fall on my way;
    My path may always lead through night,
    Like some deserted by-way;
    But though life's dearest joy I miss
    There lies a nameless strength in this—
    I will be worthy of it.

  11. The Key to Success

    by Robin A. Walker

    The key to success is not silver or gold
    It's not made of copper or steel,
    But a longing, a sigh, and a yearning to try,
    A yearning for learning, a burning to try
    To climb to the goal where a soul dwells to bless.
    That, you can see, is the key to success.

    The key to success no man ever gave,
    No man ever purchased for gold,
    For it springs from the things that a perfect life brings,
    A willing for stilling the baser thoughts filling,
    To merit our place with the grace we posses,
    And it's free as the sea, is the key to success.

  12. Poplars in the Wind

    by Angela Morgan

    They dreamed so long of all the flying things—
    Flying clouds, with opalescent wings;
    Flying birds, who had no fetters anywhere,
    All the enraptured creatures of the air—
    That, when the storm came sweeping down the sky,
    They lifted all their leaves with the one cry;
    "Now—now we shall fly!"

    And I, who saw them romping in high glee,
    Whose torn, mad banners boasted liberty,
    Said: "There is something here of wild adventure and delight,
    For trees are surely winged creatures poised for flight,"
    And watched their revelry and almost seemed to see
    How every tossing branch was saying, "Free! Free!"
    Enchanted of the sky, each tree forgetting
    Its earthly setting.

    But in the rain-stilled quiet of the afternoon
    I passed again, and saw how all too soon
    Their revelry had ended, and each stood
    Subdued and chastened by the rebuking wood,
    Each stared with wonder on the enduring ground,
    Where still their roots had anchor, firmly bound
    By laws that had no thought for yearning cries
    Or longing branches, straining toward the skies.

    Thinking of human poplars whom I knew,
    Musing, I said: "The same grim law holds true—
    People, like trees, reach out to claim the sky,
    Just to be free! Theirs, too, the same wild cry.
    Theirs, too, the dream of fetters cast away,
    Till comes the quiet of the revealing day.
    And lo! rebuking laws whose roots are found
    Deeper than any tree that ties the ground,
    Sunk in the conscience of the human race,
    No frenzied wish may tear them from their place;
    No dream of any tree may lift it from the sod
    No word of man may change the laws of God.
    By being true to edicts earth declares are right
    Mortals and trees may soar into the light;
    By being faithful to their human bars
    Mortals and trees may tower to the stars.

  13. Resolution

    by Georgia Douglas Johnson

    With but one life full certified,
    And that of every gleam denied
    My portion,
    Close to the unrelenting sod,
    E'en as my fathers dumbly trod,
    I've slumbered;
    But now a surging, wild unrest
    Uproots the poppies from my breast,
    My soul awake, erect! anew!
    I stand and face the star-swept blue,
    And swear to make my dreams come true!

  14. My Creed

    by Edgar A. Guest

    To live as gently as I can;
    To be, no matter where, a man;
    To take what comes of good or ill
    And cling to faith and honor still;
    To do my best, and let that stand
    The record of my brain and hand;
    And then, should failure come to me,
    Still work and hope for victory.

    To have no secret place wherein
    I stoop unseen to shame or sin;
    To be the same when I'm alone
    As when my every deed is known;
    To live undaunted, unafraid
    Of any step that I have made;
    To be without pretense or sham
    Exactly what men think I am.

    To leave some simple mark behind
    To keep my having lived in mind;
    If enmity to aught I show,
    To be an honest, generous foe,
    To play my little part, nor whine
    That greater honors are not mine.
    This, I believe, is all I need
    For my philosophy and creed.

  15. Each Life Converges to some Centre (or The Goal)

    by Emily Dickinson

    Each life converges to some centre
    Expressed or still;
    Exists in every human nature
    A goal,

    Admitted scarcely to itself, it may be,
    Too fair
    For credibility's temerity
    To dare.

    Adored with caution, as a brittle heaven,
    To reach
    Were hopeless as the rainbow's raiment
    To touch,

    Yet persevered toward, surer for the distance;
    How high
    Unto the saints' slow diligence
    The sky!

    Ungained, it may be, by a life's low venture,
    But then,
    Eternity enables the endeavoring

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