Courage He Said
Jessie Redmon Fauset
ULYSSES, debarking in the Lotos Land,
Struck the one note that the hapless Ithacans
Travel-sick, mazed, bemused, could understand,
And understanding, follow.
'Courage,' he said, 'remember, is not Hope!'
He left the worn, safe ship, spume-stained and hollow.
'To be courageous is to face despair.'
And through the groves and 'thwart the ambient air
Resounded reedy echoes:
But this they understood.
And plunging on prepared for best, and most prepared
For worst, found only in their stride
A deep umbrageous wood,
And grassy plains where they disported; eased
And bathed lame feet within a purling stream
And murmured: 'Here, Odysseus, would we fain abide!'
But neither the stream's sweet ease
Nor the shade of the vast beech-trees,
Nor the blessed sense
Of the sweet, sweet soil
Beneath feet salt-cracked and worn
Brought to them even then,
(Still fainting and frayed and forlorn),
Such complete recompense
As the knowledge that once again
Facing the new and untried,
They had kept the courage of men!