THE MEN WE MIGHT HAVE BEEN - William Barnes Poems

 
 

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THE MEN WE MIGHT HAVE BEEN

When God's wrath-cloud is o'er me,
    Affrighting heart and mind;
When days seem dark before me,
    And days seem black behind;
Those friends who think they know me --
    Who deem their insight keen --
They ne'er forget to show me
    The man I might have been.

He's rich and independent,
    Or rising fast to fame;
His bright star is ascendant,
    The country knows his name;
His houses and his gardens
    Are splendid to be seen;
His fault the wise world pardons --
    The man I might have been.

His fame and fortune haunt me;
    His virtues wave me back;
His name and prestige daunt me
    When I would take the track;
But you, my friend true-hearted --
    God keep our friendship green! --
You know how I was parted
    From all I might have been.

But what avails the ache of
    Remorse or weak regret?
We'll battle for the sake of
    The men we might be yet!
We'll strive to keep in sight of
    The brave, the true, and clean,
And triumph yet in spite of
    The men we might have been.