Bayard Taylor image

Bayard Taylor

Jan. 11, 1825 - Dec 19, 1878


Squandered Lives

by Bayard Taylor

The fisherman wades in the surges;
The sailor sails over the sea;
The soldier steps bravely to battle;
The woodman lays axe to the tree.

They are each of the breed of the heroes,
The manhood attempered in strife:
Strong hands, that go lightly to labor,
True hearts, that take comfort in life.

In each is the seed to replenish
The world with the vigor it needs, --
The centre of honest affections,
The impulse to generous deeds.

But the shark drinks the blood of the fisher;
The sailor is dropped in the sea;
The soldier lies cold by his cannon;
The woodman is crushed by his tree.

Each prodigal life that is wasted
In manly achievement unseen,
But lengthens the days of the coward,
And strengthens the crafty and mean.

The blood of the noblest is lavished
That the selfish a profit may find;
But God sees the lives that are squandered,
And we to His wisdom are blind.


The Poet's Journal
Copyright 1863
Ticknor and Fields, Boston