God, though this life is but a wraith,
Although we know not what we use,
Although we grope, with little faith,
Give me the heart to fight—and lose.
Ever insurgent let me be;
Make me more daring than devout;
From sleek contentment keep me free,
And fill me with a buoyant doubt.
Open my eyes to visions girt
With beauty, and with wonder lit;
But let me always see the dirt
And all that spawn and die in it.
Open my ears to music;
Let me thrill with spring’s first flutes and drums:
But never let me dare forget
The bitter ballads of the slums.
From compromise and things half done
Keep me, with stern and stubborn pride,
And when at last the fight is won,
God, keep me still unsatisfied.
Louis Untermeyer (1885-1977) was an author, poet, anthologist, and editor. He wrote or edited more than 100 books, including anthologies of short stories, humor, poetry, and children’s literature.