- Ken Hay
Updated: Aug 27, 2020
I have written only one poem - Prospecting - published in another post in this Blog.
However, I have no doubt my life has been influenced by a few poems four of which I have included here. Kipling's classical "IF" is one, Don't Quit by an anonymous writer is another as is Deciderata by Max Ehrmann and "A Road Less Travelled" by Robert Frost.
I first read "A Road Less Travelled" by the American poet, Robert Frost, during English classes at Ultimo Technical College, Sydney about 1963. I was in the Navy, had decided my long term goal was to become a doctor but first had to gain entry to University. So I spent a lot of time at "night school" while in the Navy. My road was certainly less travelled but it led me to the realisation of that long held ambition - I graduated MB BS at University of Western Australia in 1975. Occasionally, people will comment that I did medicine "the hard way" - my usual response is, "there is no easy way." That poem probably did not inspire me as much as, later, reflected me and my path through life.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will When the road you're trudging seems all up- hill When the funds are low and the debts are high And you want to smile, but you have to sigh When care is pressing you down a bit Rest, if you must, but don't you quit. Life is queer, with its twists and turns As everyone of us sometimes learns And many a failure turns about When he might have won had he stuck it out Don't give up though the pace seems slow You may succeed with another blow. Success is failure turned inside out The silver tint of the clouds of doubt And you never can tell how close you are It may be near when it seems so far So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
DECIDERATA – a Prose Poem.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
And remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly & clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud & aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing future of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness.
Beyond wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours & aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Deciderata (Latin: things desired)
This is a prose poem written in the early 1920s by the American writer Max Ehrmann. (16 September 1872 – 9 September 1945. ) Youngest of five children born of German emigrant parents in Terre Haute, Indiana, USA.
Received a degree in English from DePauw university and, later, a degree in Law and Philosophy from Harvard. Practiced law in Terre Haute.
IF Rudyard Kipling
IF you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or being hated, don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise: If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools: If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!' If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, ' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
The Road Not Taken By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference