The Lion Path ~ Gilman

“I dare not!—
               Look! the road is very dark—
  The trees stir softly and the bushes shake,
  The long grass rustles, and the darkness moves
  Here! there! beyond—!
  There’s something crept across the road just now!
  And you would have me go—?
  Go there, through that live darkness, hideous
  With stir of crouching forms that wait to kill?
  Ah, look! See there! and there! and there again!
  Great yellow, glassy eyes, close to the ground!
  Look! Now the clouds are lighter I can see
  The long slow lashing of the sinewy tails,
  And the set quiver of strong jaws that wait—!
  Go there? Not I! Who dares to go who sees
  So perfectly the lions in the path?

  Comes one who dares.
                       Afraid at first, yet bound
  On such high errand as no fear could stay.
  Forth goes he, with lions in his path.
  And then—?
              He dared a death of agony—
  Outnumbered battle with the king of beasts—
  Long struggles in the horror of the night—
  Dared, and went forth to meet—O ye who fear!
  Finding an empty road, and nothing there—
  And fences, and the dusty roadside trees—
  Some spitting kittens, maybe, in the grass.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Excerpt From
It Can Be Done / Poems of Inspiration
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