“Love is Wiser than Ambition”

O give not up the promise of your time
For me: for what? an evanescent woman,
A rose-leaf scarce unfolded ere it falls. Your days
Should be a wood of laurels evergreen:
Seek glory!

Glory! To be sung to tuneless harps!
A picture, and a name; to live for death!
Seek glory? Never. The world’s gossip Fame
Is busy in the market-place, the change,
At court or wrangling senate, noting down
Him of the fattest purse, the fabulous crest,
The tongue right honied or most poisonous.
If Glory goes among the bristling spears,
Which war is mowing down; or walks the wave,
When Fate weighs kingdoms in their battle-fleets;
Or watches the still student at his work,
Reading the laws of nature in the heavens,
Or earth’s minutest creature; she may find me:
If not, I am contented with oblivion,
As all the other millions. My sweet fair,
One little word of confidence and love,
From lips beloved, thrilleth more my heart
Than brightest trumpet-touch of statued Fame.
My bird of Paradise, tell me some news
Of your own home.

My home should be your heart:
What shall I tell of that?

Can you not see?
Surely the love that burns before thy image,
As sunny as a burning diamond,
Must shed its light without.


[Kelsall, 1851]