Council Readings

Guys who were at Horseshoe up until the mid-1970s still can hear the lilting words of Doc H’s poems echo in their minds. Some great memories of Council Horseshoe were forged as the sun slowly set and Doc led services on Friday nights. These poems were passed from generation to generation, on down to Jordan. Horseshoe alums frequently ask if we can help them locate a certain poem or know who it is by. Here they are. Everything from Doc’s folder. Collecting them has been a labor of love for about a dozen people from every decade of Horseshoe’s illustrious history. These poems—and the thoughts they conjure up—are vital to the Horseshoe Spirit. Enjoy!

A curve in the road and a hillside

A curve in the road and a hillside
Clear-cut against the sky;
A tall tree tossed by autumn wind,
And a white cloud riding high;
Ten men went along that road,
And all but one passed by,
He saw the hill and the tree and the cloud
With an artists’ mind and eye;
And he put them down on canvas–
For the other nine men to buy.


These are the things I prize

These are the things I prize
And hold of dearest worth:
Light of sapphire skies,
Peace of the silent hills,
Shelter of forests, comfort of the grass,
Music of birds, murmur of little rills,
Shadows of cloud that swiftly pass,
And, after showers,
The smell of flowers
And of the good brown earth,–
And best of all, along the way, friendship and mirth.

Henry Van Dyke (1852 – 1933), excerpt from “God of the Open Air,” published in Songs out of Doors (1904).

Let me live in a house by the side of the road


Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
And be a friend to man.

Sam Walter Foss (1858 – 1911), conclusion to a poem published in Dreams of Homespun (1897)

You cannot run away from a weakness

You cannot run away from a weakness;
You must sometime fight it out or perish;
And if that be so,
Why not now,
And where you stand.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94)

There is a destiny that makes us brothers

There is a destiny that makes us brothers
None goes his way alone;
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own.

Edwin Markham (1852-1940), first stanza of "A Creed," in Poems of Edwin Markham (1950), p. 18.

It is my joy in life to find

It is my joy in life to find
     At every turning of the road,
The strong arm of comrade kind
     To help me onward with my load.

And since I have no gold to give,
     And love alone must make amends,
My only prayer is, while I live, —
     God make me worthy of my friends!

Frank Dempster Sherman (1860-1916), original copyright 1887; reprinted in his posthumous collected poems (1917) which is probably where Doc read it, or else perhaps in the anthology
Poems of Today (1924).

The world is full of problems

The world is full of problems,
There’s much to cause distress;
We all are bowed beneath the cares
That daily round us press.
There’s only one solution,
‘Tis simply stated thus:

“A little less of you or me,
A little more of us.”

The rule of each man for himself,
Most foolish is to follow;
It brings no savor to the game,
Its victories are hollow.
But the other plan has never failed
To bring satisfaction, plus:

“A little less of you or me,
A little more of us.”

A flake of snow is very small,
‘Tis lost to sight quite quickly;
But many flakes, combined, will fill
The roads and pathways thickly.
United we can face the fight,
Without distress or fuss;
“A little less of you or me,
A little more of us.”

Courage isn’t a brilliant dash

Courage isn’t a brilliant dash,
A daring deed in a moment’s flash;

It isn’t an instantaneous thing
Born of despair with a sudden spring.

It isn’t a creature of flickered hope
Or the final tug at a slipping rope;

But it’s something deep in the soul of man
That is working always to serve some plan.

Courage isn’t the last resort
In the work of life or the game called sport;

It isn’t a thing that a man can call
At some future time, when he’s apt to fall;

If he hasn’t it now, he will have it not
When the strain is great and the pace is hot.

For who would strive for a distant goal
Must always have courage within his soul.

Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959), excerpt from a poem in A Heap O’ Livin’ (1916)

I live in a little house

I live in a little house,
But the door can open wide–
I live in a little house,
But the whole round world’s outside!

The light marches in with the morning,
The stars creep down at night,
The high rain treads on my door-step,
The far winds call on their flight.

And the Spring comes in as a lover,
When Winter’s feet depart;
And O the voices and voices
That reach the door of my heart!

I live in a little house,
But the door can open wide–
I live in a little house,
But the whole round world’s outside!

When you get to know a fellow

When you get to know a fellow, know his every mood and whim,
You begin to find the texture of the splendid side of him:
You begin to understand him, and you cease to scoff and sneer,
For with understanding always prejudices disappear.
You begin to find his virtues and his faults you cease to tell,
For you seldom hate a fellow when you know him very well.

Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959), first poem in A Heap O’ Livin’ (1916)

When Crew and captain understand each other

When Crew and Captain understand each other to the core,
It takes a gale and more than a gale to put their ship ashore;
For the one will do what the other commands,
Although they are chilled to the bone,
And both together can live through weather
That neither could face alone.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), second stanza of  "Together" (1911)

Get into the thick of it—wade in boys!

Get into the thick of it–-wade in boys!
Whatever your cherished goal;
Brace up your will till your pulses thrill,
And you dare-–to your very soul;
Do something more than make a noise;
Let your purpose leap into flame
As you plunge with a cry, “I shall do or die!”
Then you will be playing the game.

Anonymous, "Playing the Game"

Fling forth the triple-colored flag to dare

Fling forth the triple-colored flag to dare
The bright, untraveled highways of the air,
Blow the undaunted bugles, blow, and yet
Let not the boast betray us to forget.
Lo, there are high adventures for this hour–
Tourneys to test the sinews of our power,
For we must parry–as the years increase
The hazards of success, the risks of peace!

Edwin Markham (1852-1940), "The Need of the Hour" (1909).

If you’ve tried and have not won

If you’ve tried and have not won,
Never stop for crying;
All that’s good and great is done
Just by patient trying.

Tho young birds, in flying, fall,
Still their wings grow stronger;
And the next time they can keep
Up a little longer.

Tho the sturdy oak has known
Many a wind that bowed her,
She has risen again and grown
Loftier and prouder.

If by easy work you beat,
Who the more will prize you?
Gaining victory from defeat,
That’s the test that tries you.

Phoebe Cary (1824-71); her collected poems first appeared in 1849; Doc may well have encountered it in the popular anthology Ethics for Children (1910)

You Must Not Quit

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you’d like to win but think you can’t
It’s almost certain you won’t

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost
For out in the world you’ll find
Success begins in a fellows will
It’s all in the state of mind

If you think you’re outclassed you are
You must think high to rise
You have to be sure of yourself
Before you can ever win a prize

Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man
Sooner or later the man that wins is the man who thinks he can.

[This poem is attributed by motivational speakers to C.W. Longenecker, but more likely is by Walter D. Wintle about whom few facts are certain; the last couplet sometimes is attributed to Vince Lombardi because he was fond of it and was known to recite it at appropriate times.]
Test of a Man

The test of a man is the fight that he makes
the grit that he daily shows.
The way he stands upon his feet and takes
life’s numerous bumps and blows.

A coward can smile when there’s naught to fear
and noting his progress bars,
but it takes a man to stand and cheer
while the other fellow stars.

It isn’t the victory after all,
but the fight that a brother makes.
A man when driven against the wall
still stands erect and takes

the blows of fate with his head held high.
Bleeding and bruised and pale
is the man who will win and fate defied
for he isn’t afraid to fail.

Walter D. Wintle

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
when he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst, that you must not quit.

C.W. Longenecker

The people who always live in houses

The people who always live in houses, and sleep on beds, and walk on pavements, and buy their food from butchers and bakers and grocers, are not the most blessed inhabitants of this wide and various earth. The circumstances of their existence are too mathematical and secure for perfect contentment. They live at second or third hand. They are boarders in the world. Everything is done for them by somebody else.

Henry Van Dyke (1852 – 1933), Fisherman’s Luck (1905; reprinted 1913) p.14

The section immediately after the excerpt from this prose-poem that Doc chose to read at Council Horseshoe is likewise full of matter worthy of consideration.

Work! Thank God for the might of it

Thank God for the might of it,
The ardor–the urge, the delight of it–
Work that springs from the heart’s desire,
Setting the brain and the soul on fire–
Oh, what is so good as the heat of it,
And what is so glad as the beat of it,
And what is so kind as the stern command,
Challenging brain and heat and hand?

Thank God for the pace of it;
For the terrible, keen, swift race of it;
Fiery steeds in full control,
Nostrils a-quiver to greet the goal.
Work, the power that drives behind,
Guiding the purposes, taming the mind,
Holding the runaway wishes back,
Reining the will to one steady track,
Speeding the energies faster–faster,
Triumphing over disaster.
Oh, what is so good as the pain of it,
And what is so great as the gain of it?
And what is so kind as the cruel goad,
Forcing us on through the rugged road?

Thank God for the pride of it,
For the beautiful, conquering tide of it,
Sweeping the tide in its furious flood,
Thrilling the arteries, cleansing the blood,
Mastering stupor and dull despair,
Moving the dreamer to do and dare.
Oh–what is so good as the urge of it,
And what is so glad as the surge of it,
And what is so strong as the summons deep,
Rousing the torpid soul from the sleep?

Thank God for the swing of it,
For the clamoring, hammering ring of it,
Passion of labor daily hurled
On mighty anvils of the world.
Oh what is so fierce as the flame of it?
And what is so huge as the aim of it?
Thundering on through death and doubt,
Calling the plan of the Maker out.
Work, the Titan; Work, the friend,
Shaping the earth to a glorious end,
Draining the swamps and blasting the hills,
Doing whatever the spirit wills–
Rending a continent apart,
To answer the dream of the master heart.
Thank God for a world where none may shirk–
Thank God for the Splendor of Work.

Angela Morgan (1873-1957), "Work: A Song of Triumph," in "The Hour Has Struck: A War Poem" and other poems (New York, 1914) as the first poem in the the third section; reprinted on its own by the end of the year in The Outlook; anthologized frequently, especially between 1919-21, most notably in The Elson Reader (1921).

Let me but do my work from day to day

Let me but do my work from day to day,
In field or forest–at the desk or loom,
In roaring marketplace or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
“This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
Of all who live, I am the one by whom
This work can best be done in the right way.

Henry Van Dyke (1852 – 1933)

Nature never did betray

Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; ‘tis her privilege
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy, for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, no the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e’er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith that all which we behold

William Wordsworth, "Tintern Abbey" in Lyrical Ballads, 1798).

Friends are necessary to a happy life

Friends are necessary to a happy life. When friendship deserts us we are as lonely and helpless as a ship, left by the tide high upon the shore; when friendship returns to us, it is as though the tide came back, gave us buoyancy and freedom, and opened to us the wide places of the world.

Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969)

Thank God I can rejoice

Thank God I can rejoice
In human things—the multitudes’ glad voice,
The street’s warm surge neneath the city light,
The rush of hurrying faces on my sight,
The million-celled emotion in the press
That would their human fellowship confess.
Thank Thee because I may my brother feed,
That Thou has opened me unto his need,
Kept me from being callous, cold and blind,
Taught me the melody of being kind.
Thus, for my own and for my brother’s sake—
Thank Thee [o Lord], I am awake!

Angela Morgan (1873-1957), "Song of Thanksgiving" in The Hour Has Struck (New York, 1914), reprinted the following year and subseuqently anthologized frequently.

In this world the one thing supremely worth having

In this world the one thing supremely worth having is the opportunity, coupled with the capacity, to do well and worthily a piece of work—the doing of which is of vital consequence to the welfare of mankind.

No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

A man may hide himself from you or misrepresent himself to you—every other way; but he cannot in his work: there be sure—you have him to the inmost. That he likes, all that he sees—all that he can do—his imagination—his affections—his perseverance, his impatience, his clumsiness, cleverness—everything is there.

On every hand we see nature at work, in mountain and stream, in bush and tree, in the heavens and under the waters. And this work goes on without cessation. We rejoice—O Lord—that we Thy children, have been granted the capacity—the desire and the occasion to work. We delight in the health, happiness and achievement that come through work. Help us to see that every one must share in this blessing.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Teach me, Father

Teach me, Father, how to go
Softly as the grasses grow;
Hush my soul to meet the shock
Of the wild world as a rock;
But my spirit, propt with power,
Make as simple as a flower.
Let the dry heart fill its cup,
Like a poppy looking up;
Let life lightly wear her crown
Like a poppy looking down,
When its heart is filled with dew
And its life begins anew.

Edwin Markham (1852-1940), “A Prayer,” in Modern American Poetry (1919).