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*hythe: a landing-place, port or haven.


I had forgotten about this poem until I heard some lines from it quoted in a message by Pastor E. A, Adeboye,

The heights by great men reached and kept

      Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

      Were toiling upward in the night.

This verse was always quoted when teachers wanted their students (me) to study more and play less. Now that I have a tween who I have to hound to read, I feel for my teachers. Not everyone can study with ease. For people like me, it took a while to get the hang of it. The key is being willing to keep trying.

About this poem… Key words in the first two verses are ‘ladder’ and ‘ascend.’ The poet believes that mistakes and failures can be turned around and be used as a ladder to go higher. He believes that both pleasures and discontents can give us a chance to excel. He also feels that the little, ‘ignoble’ things are important and help us be better. But he acknowledges that thoughts of ill and actions fuelled by ill thoughts have to be done away with. To achieve this, one must learn to act positively.

Then he hits us with the secret of those who look like overnight successes. They just toiled when others were resting. He ends with an assurance that everyone can succeed, if we stand up and climb over the rubble of the ‘Past.’ First, appreciate it as the past, and then climb over it and move on.

This is a long but encouraging poem that you should save and go over as often as you can. Let go of the past and ill thoughts and press on.

Tell me a poem that has motivated you. I will read it and write a review.

Lots of love,


The Ladder of St. Augustine


Saint Augustine! well hast thou said, 

     That of our vices we can frame

A ladder, if we will but tread

      Beneath our feet each deed of shame!

All common things, each day’s events,

      That with the hour begin and end,

Our pleasures and our discontents,

      Are rounds by which we may ascend.

The low desire, the base design,

      That makes another’s virtues less;

The revel of the ruddy wine,

      And all occasions of excess;

The longing for ignoble things;

      The strife for triumph more than truth;

The hardening of the heart, that brings

      Irreverence for the dreams of youth;

All thoughts of ill; all evil deeds,

      That have their root in thoughts of ill;

Whatever hinders or impedes

      The action of the nobler will; —

All these must first be trampled down

      Beneath our feet, if we would gain

In the bright fields of fair renown

      The right of eminent domain.

We have not wings, we cannot soar;

      But we have feet to scale and climb

By slow degrees, by more and more,

      The cloudy summits of our time.

The mighty pyramids of stone

      That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,

When nearer seen, and better known,

      Are but gigantic flights of stairs.

The distant mountains, that uprear

      Their solid bastions to the skies,

Are crossed by pathways, that appear

      As we to higher levels rise.

The heights by great men reached and kept

      Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

      Were toiling upward in the night.

Standing on what too long we bore

      With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,

We may discern — unseen before —

      A path to higher destinies,

Nor deem the irrevocable Past

      As wholly wasted, wholly vain,

If, rising on its wrecks, at last

      To something nobler we attain.