One of the most often-heard of sentences
is “I don’t know what I’m to do
in the world.” Yet very few people are ever
for a moment out of something to do, especially if
they do not insist on climbing to the top of the pole
and waving the flag, but are willing to steady the
pole while somebody else climbs.
If you cannot on the ocean
Sail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows,
Laughing at the storms you
You can stand among the sailors,
Anchored yet within the bay,
You can lend a hand to help them
As they launch their boats
If you are too weak to journey
Up the mountain, steep and
You can stand within the valley
While the multitudes go by;
You can chant in happy measure
As they slowly pass along
Though they may forget the singer,
They will not forget the song.
If you cannot in the harvest
Garner up the richest sheaves,
Many a grain, both ripe and golden,
Oft the careless reaper leaves;
Go and glean among the briars
Growing rank against the wall,
For it may be that their shadow
Hides the heaviest grain of
If you cannot in the conflict
Prove yourself a soldier true;
If, where fire and smoke are thickest,
There’s no work for
you to do;
When the battle field is silent,
You can go with careful tread;
You can bear away the wounded,
You can cover up the dead.
Do not then stand idly waiting
For some greater work to do;
Fortune is a lazy goddess,
She will never come to you;
Go and toil in any vineyard,
Do not fear to do and dare.
If you want a field of labor
You can find it anywhere.
Ellen M.H. Gates.