Theodore Roosevelt: If You Fail, Fail While Daring Greatly

"I am well mottled with bruises elsewhere. Still I have made good progress, and since you left they have taught me three new throws that are perfect corkers!"

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On October 27, 1858, Martha Stewart Bulloch gave birth to Theodore Roosevelt Jr. at the Roosevelt family home in Manhattan, New York. For young Roosevelt, it was rough goings from the start, as he continually suffered from poor health and debilitating asthma. At night, he would have sudden asthma attacks so severe, his parents feared for his life. Doctors at the time had no cure and presumed the worst, that Roosevelt's life would be short and unpromising. These challenges shaped Roosevelt's formative years.

Theodore Roosevelt Sr., however, had other notions for his son. Roosevelt Jr. said of his father:

[He] was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness.

In spite of young Roosevelt's frailty, the Roosevelt clan traveled often, from Europe, the Middle East, to hiking in the Alps. Roosevelt Sr. encouraged young Roosevelt to keep up and to set no limitations on his abilities. From this foundation, young Roosevelt discovered the benefits of physical exercise, finding a love for the outdoors, and an appreciation for exertion and effort. Roosevelt's newfound reverence for the strenuous life not only energized his spirits but diminished his asthma. Vigorous exercise became ritual.

 Before Theodore Roosevelt learned boxing

Before Theodore Roosevelt learned boxing

Unfortunately, exercise was not enough. After an incident where he was roughed up by two older boys, Roosevelt found need for a teacher other than his father. Under the tutelage of boxing coach John Long, Roosevelt learned not only how to fight, but to defy his own weaknesses, and to become a man. This was a lifelong pattern, as Roosevelt sought to continuously model himself after courageous figures he encountered:

Having been a sickly boy, with no natural bodily prowess and having lived much at home, I was at first quite unable to hold my own when thrown into contact with other boys of rougher antecedents. I was nervous and timid. Yet from reading of the people I admired — ranging from the soldiers of Valley Forge and Morgan’s riflemen, to the heroes of my favorite stories — and from hearing of the feats of my southern forefathers and kinsfolk and from knowing my father, I felt a great admiration for men who were fearless and who could hold their own in the world, and I had a great desire to be like them.
 After Roosevelt learned boxing

After Roosevelt learned boxing

In his autobiography, Roosevelt said of his boxing:

I was a painfully slow and awkward pupil, and certainly worked two or three years before I made any perceptible improvement whatever.

On his first master, Roosevelt recounted:

My first boxing-master was John Long, an ex-prize-fighter. I can see his rooms now, with colored pictures of the fights between Tom Hyer and Yaknee Sullivan, and Heenan and Sayers, and other great events in the annals of the squared circle. On one occasion, to excite interest among his patrons, he held a series of ‘championship’ matches for the different weights, the prizes being, at least in my own class, pewter mugs of a value, I should suppose, approximating fifty cents. Neither he nor I had any idea that I could do anything, but I was entered in the lightweight contest, in which it happened that I was pitted in succession against a couple of reedy striplings who were even worse than I was. Equally to their surprise and to my own, and to John Long’s, I won, and the pewter mug became one of my most prized possessions.

On September 27, 1876, Roosevelt entered Harvard College. Roosevelt Sr. gave his son this advice:

Take care of your morals first, your health next, and finally your studies.

For months, Theodore Roosevelt Sr. suffered from a gastrointestinal tumor but kept it a secret from his son, as not to disrupt him while he was away at college. When 19-year-old Theodore Jr. was eventually notified, he immediately took a train back home. On February 9, 1878, at the age of 46, Theodore Roosevelt Sr. passed away, missing his son by a few hours. From then on, Roosevelt Jr. increased his efforts in studies and extracurricular activities, participating in boxing, wrestling, and rowing.

However, Roosevelt's seriousness and level of intensity made him unpopular amongst his peers. That all changed after a Harvard boxing tournament where Roosevelt persevered against better boxers. In the finals of the tournament, Roosevelt took a damaging blow from his opponent after the bell. The audience was outraged, and rather than winning the contest and tournament by crying foul, Roosevelt calmed the audience down, knowing that his opponent didn't do it on purpose. Even against personal and literal attack, Roosevelt's sense of justice was unshaken. Roosevelt continued the fight in a losing effort, and though he was only the runner-up, Roosevelt won the hearts of his fellow students. Roosevelt graduated Harvard with honors.

While still a student, Roosevelt wrote a book on the War of 1812. Published in 1882, The Naval War of 1812 is still the standard study of the war.

On February 14, 1884, six years and five days after the death of his father, both Theodore Roosevelt's mother and wife died within hours of each other at the Roosevelt family home.

The light has gone out of my life.
— Theodore Roosevelt

Disenchanted with New York life and his first foray into politics, Roosevelt moved to North Dakota. He built a ranch and lived the life of a cattle herdsman.

There are those who pretend and then there are the genuine articles. Though Roosevelt was not a strong rider, he stayed the course and rode with the other herders day in and day out without a single complaint. Much as he did with his boxing and wrestling, Roosevelt won the respect of his peers not through natural ability, but with endurance and perseverance. This is how he became a real cowboy. During this time, Roosevelt wrote several books on frontier life.

As a deputy sheriff, Roosevelt captured three outlaws who had stolen his riverboat. While waiting for support, Roosevelt held guard over these men for forty hours without sleep. He read Leo Tolstoy and other books to keep himself awake. When he was out of his own books, he read dime novels belonging to the thieves. Roosevelt never stopped learning.

After a severe winter (1886-1887) wiped out his cattle, Roosevelt returned east, reentering public life — forever altering his trajectory.

In 1895, Roosevelt became the Police Commissioner of New York City. Late at night and early in the mornings, Roosevelt would walk the city to observe the goings on, the lack of police presence, and the terrible conditions for poor immigrants. At the time, the New York Police Department was known as the most corrupt in America; Roosevelt made it his personal mission to clean up the department. His reforms in the city brought him national attention.

In 1897, Roosevelt was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by President William McKinley.

In 1898, the United States and Spain went to war. Roosevelt left his leadership position and along with Army Colonel Leonard Wood formed the First US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. While serving in Cuba, they became known to the press as the "Rough Riders."

On July 1, 1898, without any orders from superiors, the Rough Riders, led by Roosevelt, charged up Kettle Hill. Roosevelt had the only horse but when his horse became entangled in barbed wire, Roosevelt walked up the hill. This battle brought fame and accolades to the Rough Riders. Roosevelt said of the moment:

On the day of the big fight I had to ask my men to do a deed that European military writers consider utterly impossible of performance, that is, to attack over open ground an unshaken infantry armed with the best modern repeating rifles behind a formidable system of entrenchments. The only way to get them to do it in the way it had to be done was to lead them myself.

During his time in Cuba, Roosevelt, like many of his men, contracted malaria. It would plague him for the rest of his life.

In 1898, Theodore Roosevelt became the Governor of New York. As Governor, Roosevelt picked up the art of catch-as-catch-can wrestling, where all holds were permitted. In his autobiography he wrote:

When I became Governor, the champion middleweight wrestler of America happened to be in Albany, and I got him to come round three or four afternoons a week. Incidentally I may mention that his presence caused me a difficulty with the Comptroller, who refused to audit a bill I put in for a wrestling-mat, explaining that I could have a billiard-table, billiards being recognized as a proper Gubernatorial amusement, but that a wrestling-mat symbolized something unusual and unheard of and could not be permitted. The middleweight champion was of course so much better than I was that he could not only take care of himself but of me too and see that I was not hurt — for wrestling is a much more violent amusement than boxing. But after a couple of months he had to go away, and he left as a substitute a good-humored, stalwart professional oarsman. The oarsman turned out to know very little about wrestling. He could not even take care of himself, not to speak of me. By the end of our second afternoon one of his long ribs had been caved in and two of my short ribs badly damaged, and my left shoulder-blade so nearly shoved out of place that it creaked.

On April 10, 1899, he gave a speech on "The Strenuous Life."

I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.
— Roosevelt
We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life, we get nothing save by effort. Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been stored up effort in the past. A man can be freed from the necessity of work only by the fact that he or his fathers before him have worked to good purpose. If the freedom thus purchased is used aright, and the man still does actual work, though of a different kind, whether, as a writer or a general, whether in the field of politics or in the field of exploration and adventure, he shows he deserves his good fortune. But if he treats this period of freedom from the need of actual labor as a period, not of preparation, but of mere enjoyment, even though perhaps not of vicious enjoyment, he shows that he is simply a cumberer of the earth’s surface, and he surely unfits himself to hold his own with his fellows if the need to do so should again arise.
— Roosevelt
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
— Roosevelt

In March of 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became Vice-President of the United States.

Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.
— Roosevelt, 1901

After the assassination of President McKinley, on September 14, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest President of the United States.

Among ourselves we differ in many qualities of body, head, and heart; we are unequally developed, mentally as well as physically. But each of us has the right to ask that he shall be protected from wrong-doing as he does his work and carries his burden through life. No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing, and this is a prize open to every man, for there can be no better worth doing than that done to keep in health and comfort and with reasonable advantages those immediately dependent upon the husband, the father, or the son. There is no room in our healthy American life for the mere idler, for the man or the woman whose object it is throughout life to shirk the duties which life ought to bring. Life can mean nothing worth meaning, unless its prime aim is the doing of duty, the achievement of results worth achieving.
— Roosevelt, 1903
 Theodore Roosevelt going after Wall Street monopolies

Theodore Roosevelt going after Wall Street monopolies

From the greatest to the smallest, happiness and usefulness are largely found in the same soul, and the joy of life is won in its deepest and truest sense only by those who have not shirked life’s burdens.
— Roosevelt, 1903
 Artist rendering of Roosevelt on vacation, still living the strenuous life

Artist rendering of Roosevelt on vacation, still living the strenuous life

It is not enough to be well-meaning and kindly, but weak; neither is it enough to be strong, unless morality and decency go hand in hand with strength. We must possess the qualities which make us do our duty in our homes and among our neighbors, and in addition we must possess the qualities which are indispensable to the make-up of every great and masterful nation — the qualities of courage and hardihood, of individual initiative and yet of power to combine for a common end, and above all, the resolute determination to permit no man and no set of men to sunder us one from the other by lines of caste or creed or section. We must act upon the motto of all for each and each for all. There must be ever present in our minds the fundamental truth that in a republic such as ours the only safety is to stand neither for nor against any man because he is rich or because he is poor, because he is engaged in one occupation or another, because he works with his brains or because he works with his hands. We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less.
— Roosevelt, 1903

On September 3, 1902, a speeding trolley car rammed into the open horse-drawn carriage carrying President Theodore Roosevelt. The accident killed Roosevelt's Secret Service agent and ejected the president from the vehicle. Roosevelt suffered facial contusions and a permanently injury to his left leg. However, he continued his tour for the day and spoke to a crowd of thirty thousand. Roosevelt assured the crowd that he was unharmed, though once the tour was over, he was confined to a wheelchair for several weeks. An abscess developed in Roosevelt's leg and would flare up constantly throughout his life. Roosevelt said of William Craig, the Secret Service agent killed in the line of duty:

The man who was killed was one of whom I was fond and whom I greatly prized for his loyalty and faithfulness.

In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt was elected President by a landslide margin.

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.
— Theodore Roosevelt
 (Official White House Portrait | John Singer Sargent)

(Official White House Portrait | John Singer Sargent)

Let him play; let him have as good a time as he can have. I have a pity that is akin to contempt for the man who does not have as good a time as he can out of life. But let him work. Let him count in the world. When he comes to the end of his life, let him feel he has pulled his weight and a little more. A sound body is good; a sound mind is better, but a strong and clean character is better than either.
— Roosevelt, 1904

On the seriousness of vigor, Roosevelt said to high school graduates:

I believe with all my heart in athletics, in sport, and have always done as much thereof as my limited capacity and my numerous duties would permit; but I believe in bodily vigor chiefly because I believe in the spirit that lies back of it. If a boy can not go into athletics because he is not physically able to, that does not count in the least against him. He may be just as much of a man in after life as if he could, because it is not physical address but the moral quality behind it which really counts. But if he has the physical ability and keeps out because he is afraid, because he is lazy, because he is a mollycoddle, then I haven’t any use for him. If he has not the right spirit, the spirit which makes him scorn self-indulgence, timidity and mere ease, that is if he has not the spirit which normally stands at the base of physical hardihood, physical prowess, then that boy does not amount to much, and he is not ordinarily going to amount to much in after life. Of course, there are people with special abilities so great as to outweigh even defects like timidity and laziness, but the man who makes the Republic what it is, if he has not courage, the capacity to show prowess, the desire for hardihood; if he has not the scorn of mere ease, the scorn of pain, the scorn of discomfort (all of them qualities that go to make a man’s worth on an eleven or a nine or an eight); if he has not something of that sort in him then the lack is so great that it must be amply atoned for, more than amply atoned for, in other ways, or his usefulness to the community will be small. So I believe heartily in physical prowess, in the sports that go to make physical prowess. I believe in them not only because of the amusement and pleasure they bring, but because I think they are useful. Yet I think you had a great deal better never go into them than to go into them with the idea that they are the chief end even of school or college; still more of life.
 Theodore Roosevelt with the founder of the Sierra Club,  John Muir

Theodore Roosevelt with the founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir

You often hear people speaking as if life was like striving upward toward a mountain peak. That is not so. Life is as if you were traveling a ridge crest. You have the gulf of inefficiency on one side and the gulf of wickedness on the other, and it helps not to have avoided one gulf if you fall into the other. It shall profit us nothing if our people are decent and ineffective. It shall profit us nothing if they are efficient and wicked. In every walk of life, in business, politics; if the need comes, in war; in literature, science, art, in everything, what we need is a sufficient number of men who can work well and who will work with a high ideal.
— Roosevelt, 1904
 Roosevelt going after the corrupt railroad monopolies

Roosevelt going after the corrupt railroad monopolies

There are two kinds of success to be won. In the first place, there is success in doing the thing that can only be done by the exceptional man. Therefore, most of us can not achieve this kind of success. It comes only to the man who has very exceptional qualities. The other kind, a very, very high kind, is the ordinary kind of success, the success that comes to the man who does the things which most men could do, but which they do not do; which comes to the man who develops or possesses to a higher degree the qualities that all of us have to a greater or less extent. In the history of the world some of the men who stand high who stand in all but the very highest places are those who have not possessed any wonderful genius in statecraft, war, art, literature in whatever calling; but who have developed within themselves, by long, patient effort, resolutely maintained in spite of repeated failure, the ordinary, everyday, humdrum qualities of courage, of resolution, of proper appreciation of the relative importance of things; of honesty, of truth, of good sense, of unyielding perseverance. We can each one of us develop to a very high degree these qualities; and if we do so develop them, each one of us is sure of a measure of success...
— Roosevelt, 1904

During his time as President, Roosevelt began to study judo and Japanese jiu jitsu, eventually earning a brown belt. In one of his letters to a friend, he said:

Yesterday afternoon we had Professor Yamashita up here to wrestle with Grant. It was very interesting, but of course jiu jitsu and our wrestling are so far apart that it is difficult to make any comparison between them. Wrestling is simply a sport with rules almost as conventional as those of tennis, while jiu jitsu is really meant for practice in killing or disabling our adversary. In consequence, Grant did not know what to do except to put Yamashita on his back, and Yamashita was perfectly content to be on his back. Inside of a minute Yamashita had choked Grant, and inside of two minutes more he got an elbow hold on him that would have enabled him to break his arm; so that there is no question but that he could have put Grant out.

Roosevelt once threw the Swiss minister during a boring state luncheon, to demonstrate a judo technique for his guests. Roosevelt's cabinet sometimes had to be his training partners.

Roosevelt almost changed the course of martial arts history, as he was already mixing boxing and wrestling, with judo and jiu-jitsu. If he hadn't been so busy with world politics, rather than Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it might have been American jiu-jitsu. And perhaps the sport of mixed martial arts could have started almost a hundred years sooner. Opportunities like these happen as natural byproducts for those who who dare to live.

Just as much as his father and the frontier life were formative for Roosevelt, so, too, were the fighting arts and instructors he's had along the way. To his son Kermit, he wrote:

I am wrestling with two Japanese wrestlers three times a week. I am not the age or the build one would think to be whirled lightly over an opponent’s head and batted down on a mattress without damage. But they are so skilful that I have not been hurt at all. My throat is a little sore, because once when one of them had a strangle hold I also got hold of his windpipe and thought I could perhaps choke him off before he could choke me. However, he got ahead.

On the difficulty of the presidency while maintaining his regular martial training, Roosevelt wrote to his son Ted:

My right ankle and my left wrist and one thumb and both great toes are swollen sufficiently to more or less impair their usefulness, and I am well mottled with bruises elsewhere. Still I have made good progress, and since you left they have taught me three new throws that are perfect corkers.

On December 10, 1906, Theodore Roosevelt became the first American to win a Nobel Prize. Roosevelt was awarded the Peace Prize for his work in ending the Russo-Japanese War.

Theodore Roosevelt served as President until 1909. But unlike other retired presidents, Roosevelt almost immediately left on a dangerous expedition to Africa with the Smithsonian.

On April 23, 1910, Roosevelt delivered the now famous "Citizenship in a Republic."

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.
— Roosevelt, 1910

In a letter to his son Kermit, Roosevelt wrote:

If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base, and sordid creature, no matter how successful.

In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt ran again for the presidency. On October 14, 1912, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Roosevelt delivered a speech:

Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot. But it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.

An unemployed and deranged saloonkeeper, John Flammang Schrank, shot Roosevelt outside of a Milwaukee hotel. The bullet traveled through Roosevelt's eyeglass case and copy of his speech, lodging in his chest. Roosevelt, having knowledge of anatomy and biology, concluded the injury was a flesh wound, since he was not coughing blood and bleeding only from his chest. He ignored the suggestions to go to the hospital and delivered his scheduled 90-minute speech:

I am all right — I am a little sore. Anybody has a right to be sore with a bullet in him. You would find that if I was in battle now I would be leading my men just the same. Just the same way I am going to make this speech.

Since it was only lodged in the muscle and did not penetrate into his organs, the doctors decided it was safer to leave the bullet in his chest, rather than to remove it. The bullet remained with Roosevelt for the rest of his life, being a source of persistent health issues. It worsened his rheumatoid arthritis, preventing him from exercising. Roosevelt soon became obese.

Though Roosevelt eventually lost the election, it was the closest a third-party candidate came to winning the White House, losing to Woodrow Wilson but beating the incumbent, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt came close to shattering the two-party system, which would have forever altered how American politics was done. It's also important to note that up to this point in history, progressive could have meant any party. Roosevelt only ran as a third-party candidate because he lost the Republican primaries, not because of lack of votes, but due to backdoor deals by Taft. Roosevelt even named his party the Progressive Party. It's hard to imagine, but every candidate and every party wanted to be seen by the American public as the progressives, the one to make progress — there was no such thing as a conservative until the mid-1930s (though the roots of the ideology date back to earlier). But prior to the 30s, not only could every political ideology be progressive, they believed theirs was the most progressive. (Roosevelt, as a president, was a Republican, a progressive, and a conservationist, and there used to be no irony to this statement.) One could argue then, that with the end of Roosevelt's final presidential run, was also the end of progressivism independent of any political association.

In 1913, Roosevelt along with his son Kermit went on an expedition to the South American Amazon. Roosevelt suffered a minor leg injury while preventing two of the canoes from smashing into rocks. This soon gave way to tropical fever. The culmination of all of Roosevelt's previous health issues, along with the bullet in his chest, worsened the infection. The expedition was six weeks in and low on supplies. One of Roosevelt's legs was unusable due to infection and the other leg was weak from the previous trolley accident. With fevers over 103 °F, Roosevelt appealed to his son and the other crew to leave him behind. Roosevelt even considered killing himself as not to risk the safety of his son and the other men. In the end, however, he decided against it, since his son would insist on carrying his body out of the Amazon, and if alive, he could still help to carry himself, no matter how weak. As a testament to his will, Roosevelt survived the expedition but lost over fifty pounds. His health never sufficiently returned.

In 1914, World War I began. Even in poor health, Roosevelt pleaded with President Woodrow Wilson to allow him to go to Europe and lead a volunteer army (which included a brigade of African-American troops). Wilson denied Roosevelt's request, just in case Roosevelt were to come back a hero and run against him.

On July 14, 1918, Roosevelt's youngest son, Quentin, was killed while piloting for the American forces.

On January 5, 1919, Roosevelt went to bed after seeing his doctor for breathing problems. He said to his attendant, James Amos:

Please put out that light, James.

His last words are fitting when we consider what Roosevelt said after his wife and mother died:

The light has gone out of my life.

When Roosevelt returned from his South American expedition, he prophetically told a friend that it took ten years off of his life. Though his childhood doctors never thought the young Roosevelt would live as long as he did and have the vigorous life that he had. But few did. Few do.

On January 6, 1919, Theodore Roosevelt died. When his son Archibald Roosevelt heard the news, he telegraphed his siblings:

The old lion is dead.

Thirteen days after his death, acclaimed writer and poet H.P. Lovecraft wrote this poem:

Theodore Roosevelt

Last of the giants, in whose soul shone clear
The sacred torch of greatness and of right,
A stricken world, that cannot boast thy peer,
Mourns o’er thy grave amidst the new-born night.

Sage, seer and statesman, wise in ev’ry art;
First to behold, and first to preach, the truth;
Soldier and patriot, in whose mighty heart
Throbb’d the high valour of eternal youth.

Foremost of citizens and best of chiefs,
Within thy mind no weak inaction lay;
Leal to thy standards, firm in thy beliefs;
As quick to do, as others are to say.

Freeman and gentleman, whose spirit glow’d
With kindness’ and with goodness’ warmest fire;
To prince and peasant thy broad friendship flow’d,
Each proud to take, and eager to admire.

Within thy book of life each spotless page
Lies open for a world’s respecting view;
Thou stand’st the first and purest of our age,
To private, as to public virtue true.

In thee did such transcendent greatness gleam,
That none might grudge thee an Imperial place;
Yet such thy modesty, thou need’st must seem
The leader, not the monarch, of thy race.

Courage and pow’r, to wit and learning join’d,
With energy that sham’d the envious sun;
The ablest, bravest, noblest of mankind—
A Caesar and Aurelius mixt in one.

At thy stern gaze Dishonour bow’d its head;
Oppression slunk ingloriously away;,
The virtuous follow’d where thy footsteps led,
And Freedom bless’d thy uncorrupted sway.

When from the East invading Vandals pour’d,
And selfish ignorance restrain’d our hand,
Yet thy proud blood in filial bodies fought,
And poppies blossom o’er thy Quentin slain.

Envy deny’d thee what thy spirit sought,
And held thee from the battle-seething plain;
Thy voice was first to bid us draw the sword
To guard our liberties and save our land.

‘Twas thine to see the triumph of thy cause;
Thy grateful eyes beheld a world redeem’d;
Would that thy wisdom might have shap’d the laws
Of the new age, and led to heights undream’d!

Yet art thou gone? Will not thy presence cling
Like that of all the great who liv’d before?
Will not new wonders of thy fashioning
Rise from thy words, as potent as of yore?

Absent in flesh, thou with a brighter flame
Shin’st as the beacon of the brave and free;
Thou art our country’s soul — our loftiest aim
Is but to honour and to follow thee!

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