"The Torch"

inscribed in Mortar Board Court
at The Ohio State University


The God of Great Endeavor gave me a torch to bear
I lifted it high above me in the dark and murky air
And straightway, with loud hosannas, the crowd proclaimed its light
And followed me as I carried my torch through the starless night
Till drunk with the people's praises, and mad with vanity,
I forgot 'twas the torch that they followed,
And fancied they followed me.

Then slowly my arm grew weary upholding the shining load
And my tired feet went stumbling over the dusty road
And I fell -- with the torch beneath me. In a moment the light was out,
When lo' from the throng a stripling sprang forth with a mighty shout,
Caught up the torch as it smoldered, and lifted it high again,
Till, fanned by the winds of heaven, it fired the souls of men.

And as I lay in the darkness, the feet of the trampling crowd
Passed over and far beyond me, its paeans proclaiming aloud,
And I learned in the deepening twilight, the glorious verity,
'Tis the torch that the people follow,
Whoever the bearer may be.