The Big Deeds

We are done with little thinking and we're done with little deeds,
We are done with petty conduct and we're done with narrow creeds;
We have grown to men and women, and we've noble work to do,
And to-day we are a people with a larger point of view.
In a big way we must labor, if our Flag shall always fly.
In a big way some must suffer, in a big way some must die.
There must be no little dreaming in the visions that we see,
There must be no selfish planning in the joys that are to be;
We have set our faces eastwards to the rising of the sun
That shall light a better nation, and there's big work to be done.
And the petty souls and narrow, seeking only selfish gain,
Shall be vanquished by the toilers big enough to suffer pain.
It's a big task we have taken; 'tis for others we must fight.
We must see our duty clearly in a white and shining light;
We must quit our little circles where we've moved in little ways,
And work, as men and women, for the bigger. better days.
We must quit our selfish thinking and our narrow views and creeds,
And as people, big and splendid, We must do the bigger deeds.

Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959)

Big Words

I've whined of coming death, but now, no more!
It's weak and most ungracious. For, say I,
Though still a boy if years are counted, why!
I've lived those years from roof to cellar-floor,
And feel, like grey-beards touching their fourscore,
Ready, so soon as the need comes, to die:
And I'm satisfied.
For winning confidence in those quiet days
Of peace, poised sickly on the precipice side
Of Lliwedd crag by Snowdon, and in war
Finding it firmlier with me than before;
Winning a faith in the wisdom of God's ways
That once I lost, finding it justified
Even in this chaos; winning love that stays
And warms the heart like wine at Easter-tide;
Having earlier tried
False loves in plenty; oh! my cup of praise
Brims over, and I know I'll feel small sorrow,
Confess no sins and make no weak delays
If death ends all and I must die to-morrow.'

But on the firestep, waiting to attack,
He cursed, prayed, sweated, wished the proud words back.

Robert Graves (1895-1985)