Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
VI. Human Experience
The Laborer
William Davis Gallagher (1808–1894)
 
STAND up—erect! Thou hast the form
  And likeness of thy God!—Who more?
A soul as dauntless ’mid the storm
Of daily life, a heart as warm
    And pure, as breast e’er wore.        5
 
What then?—Thou art as true a man
  As moves the human mass among;
As much a part of the great plan
That with creation’s dawn began,
    As any of the throng.        10
 
Who is thine enemy? The high
  In station, or in wealth the chief?
The great, who coldly pass thee by,
With proud step and averted eye?
    Nay! nurse not such belief.        15
 
If true unto thyself thou wast,
  What were the proud one’s scorn to thee?
A feather which thou mightest cast
Aside, as idly as the blast
    The light leaf from the tree.        20
 
No: uncurbed passions, low desires,
  Absence of noble self-respect,
Death, in the breast’s consuming fires,
To that high nature which aspires
    Forever, till thus checked;—        25
 
These are thine enemies—thy worst:
  They chain thee to thy lowly lot;
Thy labor and thy life accursed.
O, stand erect, and from them burst,
    And longer suffer not.        30
 
Thou art thyself thine enemy:
  The great!—what better they than thou?
As theirs is not thy will as free?
Has God with equal favors thee
    Neglected to endow?        35
 
True, wealth thou hast not—’t is but dust;
  Nor place—uncertain as the wind;
But that thou hast, which, with thy crust
And water, may despise the lust
    Of both—a noble mind.        40
 
With this, and passions under ban,
  True faith, and holy trust in God,
Thou art the peer of any man.
Look up then; that thy little span
    Of life may be well trod.        45
 
 
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