Gradatim

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                     GRADATIM

Heaven is not reached at a single bound;
      But we build the ladder by which we rise
      From the lowly earth, to the vaulted skies,
And we mount to its summit round by round.

I count this thing to be grandly true:
      That a noble deed is a step toward God,
      Lifting the soul from the common clod
To a purer air and a broader view.

We rise by the things that are under feet;
      By what we have mastered of good and gain;
      By the pride deposed and the passion slain,
And the vanquished ills that we hourly meet.

We hope, we aspire, we resolve, we trust,
      When the morning calls us to life and light,
      But our hearts grow weary, and, ere the night,
Our lives are trailing the sordid dust.

We hope, we resolve, we aspire, we pray,
      And we think that we mount the air on wings
      Beyond the recall of sensual things,
While our feet still cling to the heavy clay.

Wings for the angels, but feet for men!
      We may borrow the wings to find the way —
      We may hope, and resolve, and aspire, and pray;
But our feet must rise, or we fall again.

Only in dreams is a ladder thrown
      From the weary earth to the sapphire walls;
      But the dreams depart, and the vision falls,
And the sleeper wakes on his pillow of stone.

Heaven is not reached at a single bound;
      But we build the ladder by which we rise
      From the lowly earth, to the vaulted skies,
And we mount to its summit, round by round.
                                      Josiah Gilbert Holland

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.