Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1338. I Served in a Great Cause
 
By Horace L. Traubel
 
 
I SERVED in a great cause:
Long had I doubted the call I heard, wantoning the seasons dead;
The opportune days were deserts, the sunlight fell on a waste,
But the dawn brought me face to face with itself, with the opening flowers:
I looked upon my sea casting its wrecks down the shore in the storm,        5
The wrecks, my useless volitions, disordered, missent, ill-protected, to the deep,
The resurrected programme of self veined red with the blood of my birth,
The futile hours past, the distrusted image recalled,
In tumult of desire, in quietude of achievement, in effacement of unbelief.
 
I served the great cause, the great cause served me;        10
There were never any debts between us, the compact was without obligation;
I answered its cry, it answered my cry;
The seed in the ground hungered for light, the light pierced the earth with unerring love—
We met, we ran together, appointed mates.
 
I served not as one who follows or one who leads;        15
I served not in abasement, on my knees, with my head in the dust;
I served proudly, accepted, accepting,
The cloudland phantoms never misting the prospect,
The sunshine sirens never dazing the day with their splendor,
Ever in my heart crowding ancient and unborn dreams,        20
Cresting the hills and making the valleys fertile.
 
I served in a great cause:
I served without heroism, without virtue, with no promises of success, with no near destination of treasure;
I was on the march, I contained that which persevered me to ends unseen, no footsore night relaxed my pace;
There was only the press of invisible hands, only gray-brown eyes of invitation,        25
Only my franchised heart to fuel the fires to suns.
 

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