Littell's Living Age/Volume 162/Issue 2095/Unquenched

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At the Promethean and other festivals young men ran with torches or lamps lighted from the sacrificial altar. "In this contest only he was victorious whose lamp remained unextinguished in the race."

     I think upon the conquering Greek who ran
     (Brave was the racer!) that brave race of old —
     Swifter than hope his feet that did not tire.

     Calmer than love the hand which reached that goal;
     A torch it bore, and cherished to the end
     And rescued from the winds the sacred fire.

     Oh, life, the race. Oh, heart, the racer! Hush!
     And listen long enough to learn of him
     Who sleeps beneath the dust with his desire.

     Go! shame thy coward weariness, and wail.
     Who doubles contest, doubles victory.
     Go! learn to run the race, and carry fire.

     Oh, Friend! The lip is brave, the heart is weak.
     Stay near. The runner faints — the torch falls pale.
     Save me the flame that mounteth ever higher!

     Grows it so dark? I lift mine eyes to Thine;
     Blazing within them, steadfast, pure, and strong,
     Against the wind there fights the eternal fire.