By John L. Stoddard

Stand forth, my soul, and take thine own!
Though all should blame thee, have no fear!
Self-poised and steadfast, dare alone
Thy self-elected course to steer.

Before thee lies the open sea;
Beyond it is the wished-for shore;
The route that seemeth best to thee
Select, and hesitate no more!

For he who lives the timorous slave
Of social plaudits or disdain,
Drags feebly to a nameless grave
A craven’s ever-lengthening chain.

Are thy plans noble, just, and fair?
Pursue them bravely to the end,
Nor pause to question or to care
What says thy foe, or what thy friend.

Succeed, and thou shalt surely find
That those who longed to see thee fail,
And, lingering hopelessly behind,
Spat venom on thine upward trail,

Shall run to reach thee on thy path,
To grasp thy hand and say “’Twas well”;
Or, distant, gnaw their lips in wrath,
Their envious hearts a living hell.

Forever, flint-like, set thy face
Against the loss of self-control;
Compel the world to keep its place;
Be thou the captain of thy soul!

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