If you cannot on the oceanSail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows,
Laughing at the storms you meet,
You can stand among the sailors
Anchored yet within the bay;
You can lend a hand to help them,
As they launch their boats away.
Up the mountains, steep and high,
You can stand within the valley,
While the multitude 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.
Ever ready to command,
If you cannot toward the needy
Reach an ever-open hand,
You can visit the afflicted,
O’er the erring you can weep;
You can be a true disciple,
Sitting at the Saviour’s feet.
Prove yourself a soldier true,
If where the fire and smoke is thickest
There’s no work for you to do,
When the battle field is silent,
You can go with a careful tread;
You can bear away the wounded,
You can cover up the dead.
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 or dare;
If you want a field of labor,
You can find it anywhere.
Ellen M.H. Gates.
from “The Best Love Poems of the American People”