The Explorers

Don Marquis

And some still cry: “What is the use?
  The service rendered?  What the gain?
Heroic, yes!—but in what cause?
  Have they made less one earth-borne pain?
Broadened the bounded spirit’s scope?
Or died to make the dull world hope?”

Must man still be the slave of Use?—
  But these men, careless and elate,
Join battle with a burly world
  Or come to wrestling grips with fate,
And not for any good nor gain
  Nor any fame that may befall—
But, thrilling in the clutch of life,
  Heed the loud challenge and the call;—
And grown to symbols at the last,
  Stand in heroic silhouette
  Against horizons ultimate,
  As towers that front lost seas are set;—

The reckless gesture, the strong pose,
  Sharp battle-cry flung back to Earth,
And buoyant humor, as a god
Might say: “Lo, here my feet have trod!”—
  There lies the meaning and the worth!

They bring no golden treasure home,
  They win no acres for their clan,
Nor dream nor deed of theirs shall mend
  The ills of man’s bedeviled span—
Nor are they skilled in sleights of speech,
  (Nor overeager) to make plain
The use they serve, transcending use,—
  The gain beyond apparent gain!

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