For he hates the sands of the desert
And the slimy tropic south,
Or his dreams of a northern fortune
Are as ashes in his mouth.
He loses the best life holds for man
His existence means discontent
Still he goes his way, until comes the day
When he quits it—a life misspent.
Some sigh for the breath of the desert
Where the stifling heat waves blow;
Some pant for the trackless tundra
And the sting of the cold and snow;
Some long for the wash of a sultry sea
As it breaks on a tropic shore;
Some pine for the breeze of the northern seas
And the sound of the Arctic’s roar.
Where the ragged, snow-capped saw tooth
Cuts the azure of the sky
And watches o’er the lonely land
As ages wander by;
Where the sentinel pines in grandeur
Murmur to the glacier stream
As it, ice-gorged, gluts the canyon,
Never brightened by the gleam
Of sun at brightest noon day,
Nor moon of Arctic night,
And whose only link with Heaven
Is the fitful Northern Light.
Where the Whistler shrills in triumph
And the Big Horn dreams in peace,
Where the Brown Bear skulks to cover
Up where silence holds the lease;
Where the land is as God left it
Nor has known the tread of man,
There’s a treasure ledge a-waiting—
Go and find it if you can.
If your heart be steeled to triumph
Nor beats less at your defeat;
Can you watch your whole world melt away
And still smiling, fortune greet?
Will your heart and brain and sinew
Crowd you on, when hunger’s pain
Gnaws your belly and you’re beaten,
Can you lose, and fight again?
Can you raise the cup of fortune
To your lips and bravely quaff
The draught she has prepared for you
And win or lose and laugh?
Can you see the fruits of hardships
Centered on one desperate throw
And know Fate’s dice are loaded
Nor curse to see them go?
Then take your burden up again
And stagger up the trail,
You’re bound to make a winning
Cause you don’t know how to fail.
I, who’ve spent my youth in following
The lure of hidden gold
Must pass the buck to Nature
And admit I’m growing old.
And yet each spring I hear it calling
And it’s music to my ears,
The call of lonely places
That I’ve listened to for years.
It’s cost me all most men hold dear
Some forty years of life,
And all the joys that others get
In babies, home, and wife.
My life’s been all to-morrows
And my family only dreams
And to the average plodder
I’ve missed it all it seems.
Still, I’ve never taken orders
And I’ve always liked the game,
And if life could be lived over,
Why,—I’d live it just the same.