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The Builders

From the New York Tribune, December 15, 1912. By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

All are architects of Fate,
     Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
     Some with ornaments of rhyme.
No thing useless is, or low;
     Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
     Strengthens and supports the rest.
For the structure that we raise
     Time is with materials filled;
 Our todays and yesterdays
     Are the blocks with which we build.
Truly shape and fashion these;
     Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not because no man sees,
     Such things will remain unseen.
In the elder days of art
     Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
     For the gods see everywhere.
Let us do our work as well,
     Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house where gods may dwell
     Beautiful, entire, clean.
Else, our lives are incomplete,
     Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet
     Stumble as they seek to climb.
Build today, then, strong and sure,
     With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
     Shall tomorrow find its place.

Thus alone can we attain
     To those turrets where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain
     And one boundless reach of sky.

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