The Ladder of St. Augustine
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Afternoon in February An April Day The Arrow and the Song The Arsenal at Springfield Autumn Autumn Within The Beleaguered City The Belfry of Bruges Birds Of Passage Blind Bartimeus The Bridge Burial of the Minnisink Carillon Changed Children The Children's Hour The Courtship of Miles Standish Curfew Dante Day is Done Drinking Song Endymion Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie The Evening Star Excelsior Fata Morgana Flowers Footsteps of Angels A Gleam of Sunshine Goblet of Life God's Acre The Good Part, That Shall Not be Taken Away Hymn of the Moravian Nuns of Bethlehem at the Consecration of Pulaski's Banner Hymn to the Night It Is Not Always May L'Envoi The Ladder of St. Augustine The Light of Stars Loss And Gain Maidenhood Mezzo Cammin Midnight Mass for the Dying Year My Lost Youth Nature The Norman Baron Nuremburg The Occultation of Orion The Old Clock on the Stairs Paul Revere's Ride A Psalm of Life The Quadroon Girl Rain in Summer The Rainy Day The Reaper and the Flowers The Republic The Skeleton in Armor The Slave In the Dismal Swamp The Slave Singing at Midnight The Slave's Dream Snow-Flakes The Song of Hiawatha The Sound Of The Sea Spirit of Poetry St. John's, Cambridge Sunrise on the Hills The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls To a Child To an Old Danish Song-Book To the Driving Cloud To the River Charles To William E. Channing Village Blacksmith Voices Of the Night Walter Von Der Vogel Weid The Warning The Witnesses Woods in Winter Wreck of the Hesperus
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.