Deeply and long the sap must flow
Ere the merest layer of elm can grow.
Many a wave’s recurrent shock
Is needed to smooth the tiniest rock.
Thousands of leaves must fade and fall
To make the mold by the garden wall.
Thus, as the patient seasons roll,
Slowly is fashioned a human soul.
Purpose and failure and purpose still,
Steadily moved by a quiet will,—
Layer on layer in sturdy way,
Hardly seen the growth of a day,—
Times of failure and fear and fall,
But one strong tendency through it all,—
God and purpose and sun by sun
Reach the stars before they are done!