Failure

By William Francis Barnard

Who, then, hath failed? That one who tries
To reach life far above his eyes;
Who longs to do the worthiest things,
And ‘gainst all difficulties flings
The power and strength that make a man;
That one who would complete what faith began,
But, climbing on, o’ercoming all,
Bursts his strong heart, and reels, to fall
Before some last vast summit still unscaled?
He hath not failed!
There is a triumph in defeat;
And noble sorrow’s tears are sweet.
The high heart raptures, though it break
In stress of agony’s fierce ache.
Yes, when all strength, all will is spent
In strife where truth and honor both are blent,
The sense of worth, the thought that all
Was risked for good, to stand or fall—
These things turn blackest ruin that may be,
To victory!
Who, then, hath failed? ‘Tis he whose deeds
Scorn truth and right; who hears nor heeds
Our fear, our faith, or wrath, or love.
Whose iron ambition strives above
All measures of all good and ill;
A frenzied ego with a poisoned will;
Who gains his joy, his life, his light
In triumphs of a monstrous might!
Though ‘neath a world-wide power his shame be veiled,
He, he, hath failed!

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