Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 281. Attainment
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
281. Attainment
By Madison Julius Cawein  (1865–1914)
ON the Heights of Great Endeavour,—
Where Attainment looms forever,—
Toiling upward, ceasing never,
Climb the fateful Centuries:
Up the difficult, dark places,        5
Joy and anguish in their faces,
On they strive, the living races,
And the dead, that no one sees.
Shape by shape, with brow uplifted,
One by one, where night is rifted,       10
Pass the victors, many gifted,
Where the heaven opens wide:
While below them, fallen or seated,
Mummy-like, or shadow-sheeted,
Stretch the lines of the defeated,—       15
Scattered on the mountainside.
And each victor, passing wanly,
Gazes on that Presence lonely,
With unmoving eyes where only
Grow the dreams for which men die:       20
Grow the dreams, the far, ethereal,
That on earth assume material
Attributes, and, vast, imperial,
Rear their battlements on high.
Kingdoms, marble-templed, towered,       25
Where the Arts, the many-dowered,—
That for centuries have flowered,
Trampled under War’s wild heel,—
Lift immortal heads and golden,
Blossoms of the times called olden,       30
Soul-alluring, earth-withholden,
Universal in appeal.
As they enter,—high and lowly,—
On the hush these words fall slowly:—
‘Ye who kept your purpose holy,       35
Never dreamed your cause was vain,
Look!—Behold, through time abating,
How the long, sad days of waiting,
Striving, starving, hoping, hating,
Helped your spirit to attain.       40
‘For to all who dream, aspire,
Marry effort to desire,
On the cosmic heights, in fire
Beaconing, my form appears:—
I am marvel, I am morning!       45
Beauty in man’s heart and warning!—
On my face none looks with scorning,
And no soul attains who fears.’



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