7 poems about purpose

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Atlas in front of Rockefeller Building in New York City

Happy September! 🍁 Whether you are diving straight into productive work or winding down from summer in preparation for a new school year, take a moment to set some goals for this quarter and be inspired by these poems about purpose.

1. Life Sculpture by George Washington Doane

Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy,
With his marble block before him,
And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy
As an angel-dream passed o’er him.

He carved the dream on that shapeless stone
With many a sharp incision;
With heaven’s own light that sculpture shone—
He’d caught that angel-vision.

Children of life are we, as we stand
With our lives uncarved before us,
Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
Our life-dream shall pass o’er us.

If we carve it then on the yielding stone
With many a sharp incision,
Its heavenly beauty shall be our own—
Our lives, that angel-vision.

2. Success by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, and more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.
The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen, and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs.
The distant mountains, that uprear
Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways, that appear
As we to higher levels rise.
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

3. The Set of the Sails by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

One ship drives east, and another west
With the self-same winds that blow;
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That decides the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As they voyage along through life;
'Tis the will of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

4. Thinking by Walter D. Wintle

Also known as “The Man Who Thinks He Can” and “It’s All In The State of Mind”

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can't,
It’s almost a “cinch” you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost,
For out in the world you find
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.

Full many a race is lost
Ere ever a step is run;
And many a coward fails
Ere ever his work's begun.
Think big and your deeds will grow,
Think small and you'll fall behind,
Think that you can and you will;
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are,
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins,
Is the fellow who thinks he can.

5. The Ships That Won’t Go Down by Henry Lawson

We hear a great commotion
'Bout the ship that comes to grief,
That founders in mid-ocean,
Or is driven on a reef;
Because it's cheap and brittle
A score of sinners drown.
But we hear but mighty little
Of the ships that won’t go down.

Here's honour to the builders—
The builders of the past;
Here's honour to the builders
That builded ships to last;
Here's honour to the captain,
And honour to the crew;
Here's double-column headlines
To the ships that battle through.

They make a great sensation
About famous men that fail,
That sink a world of chances
In the city morgue or gaol,
Who drink, or blow their brains out,
Because of “Fortune's frown”.
But we hear far too little
Of the men who won’t go down.

The world is full of trouble,
And the world is full of wrong,
But the heart of man is noble,
And the heart of man is strong!
They say the sea sings dirges,
But I would say to you
That the wild wave's song's a paean
For the men that battle through.

6. The Thinker by Berton Braley

Back of the beating hammer
By which the steel is wrought,
Back of the workshop’s clamor
The seeker may find the thought,
The thought that is ever master
Of iron and steam and steel,
That rises above disaster
And tramples it under heel!

The drudge may fret and tinker
Or labor with lusty blows,
But back of him stands the Thinker,
The clear-eyed man who knows;
For into each plow or saber,
Each piece and part and whole,
Must go the brains of labor,
Which gives the work a soul!

Back of the motors humming,
Back of the belts that sing,
Back of the hammers drumming,
Back of the cranes that swing,
There is the eye which scans them
Watching through stress and strain,
There is the mind which plans them—
Back of the brawn, the Brain!

Might of the roaring boiler,
Force of the engine’s thrust,
Strength of the sweating toiler—
Greatly in these we trust.
But back of them stands the Schemer,
The Thinker who drives things through;
Back of the job—the Dreamer
Who’s making the dream come true!

7. Genius by Victor Hugo

Dedicated to François-René de Chateaubriand

Woe unto him! the child of this sad earth,
Who, in a troubled world, unjust and blind,
Bears Genius—treasure of celestial birth,
Within his solitary soul enshrined.
Woe unto him! for Envy's pangs impure,
Like the undying vultures', will be driven
Into his noble heart, that must endure
Pangs for each triumph; and, still unforgiven,
Suffer Prometheus' doom, who ravished fire from Heaven.

Still though his destiny on earth may be
Grief and injustice; who would not endure
With joyful calm, each proffered agony;
Could he the prize of Genius thus ensure?
What mortal feeling kindled in his soul
That clear celestial flame, so pure and high,
O'er which nor time nor death can have control,
Would in inglorious pleasures basely fly
From sufferings whose reward is Immortality?
No! though the clamors of the envious crowd
Pursue the son of Genius, he will rise

From the dull clod, borne by an effort proud
Beyond the reach of vulgar enmities.
'Tis thus the eagle, with his pinions spread,
Reposing o'er the tempest, from that height
Sees the clouds reel and roll above our head,
While he, rejoicing in his tranquil flight,
More upward soars sublime in heaven's eternal light.

And to further help you kickstart your month, get 10% off your order from Book Depository with the discount code NO10! This offer is valid 2-15 September for orders to Norway 😉

What are your goals for the next months? Let me know in the comments below!

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