Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
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William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
 
True Greatness
By George Frederick Cameron (1854–1885)
 
WHAT is true greatness? Is ’t to climb
  Above the rocks and shoals of time
To sculpture on some height sublime
      A name
To live immortal in its prime        5
  And flush of fame?
 
What is true greatness? Is ’t to lead
  Your armèd hirelings on to bleed,
And move a terrible god, indeed,
      An hour;        10
To sate your lust of gold, or greed
  Of despot power?
 
What is true greatness? Question not,
  But go to yon secluded spot
And enter yonder humble cot        15
      And find
A husbandman who never fought
  Or wronged his kind:
 
For whom the lips of war are dumb:
  Who loves far more than beat of drum        20
The cattle’s low, the insect’s hum
      In air:
And find true greatness in its sum
  And total there!
 
What is true Greatness? ’Tis to clear        25
  From sorrow’s eye the glistening tear:
To comfort there, to cherish here,
      To bless:
To aid, encourage, and to cheer
      Distress.        30
 
 
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