Paddle Your Own Canoe

While learning about our cities history I came across this poem written by a local resident  in 1853. I thought I would share her great words of wisdom :).

Paddle Your Own Canoe

Voyager upon life’s sea,

To yourself be true,

And where’er your lot may be

Paddle your own canoe.

Never, though the winds may rave,

Falter nor look back;

But upon the darkest wave

Leave a shinning track.

Nobly dare the wildest storm,

Stem the hardest gale;

Brave of heart and strong of arm,

You will never fail.

When the world is cold and dark,

Keep an aim in view,

And toward the beacon mark

Paddle your own canoe.

Every wave that bears you on

To the silent shore,

From its sunny source has gone

To return no more.

Then let not an hour’s delay

Cheat you of your due;

But, while it is called today,

Paddle your own canoe.

If your birth denied you wealth,

loftly state and power;

Honest fame and hardy health

Are a better dower.

But if these will not suffice,

Golden gain pursue;

And, to win the glittering prize,

Paddle your own canoe.

Would you wrest the wreath of fame

From the hand of fate?

Would you write a deathless name

With the good and the great?

Would you bless your fellow-men?

Heart and soul inbue

With the holy task, and then

Paddle your own canoe.

Would you crush the tyrant wrong,

In the world’s free fight?

With a spirit brave and strong,

Battle for the right;

And to break the chains that bind

The many to the few,

To enfranchise slavish mind–

Paddle your own canoe,

Nothing great is lightly won;

Nothing won is lost;

Every good deed is nobly done,

Will repay the cost.

Leave to Heaven, in humble trust,

All you will do;

But if you succeed, you must

Paddle your own canoe.

Paddle Your Own Canoe was written in Washington, D.C. in 1853. These melodic words have been set to music and translated into eight foreign languages.

This information was compiled by Gladys Mendenhall of the Literary Guild and taken from the book, The Life and Poems of Sarah T. Bolton.


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