Audacity of Defiance: Climbing to Unseen Heights



Unseen, unfelt, the toil and sweat of years,  
The sacrifice, the hardship disappear,    
When glory smiles upon the finished task—    
Vain striving earns no laurel but to ask    
If all that travail, all that grit was worth    
The fleeting prize of fame, the hour of mirth.    
 Yet onward still the restless spirit yearns,    
Though none regard the embers as it burns.   

The long night passes with no rest or sleep,   
While critics mock and naysayers heap    
Scorn on attempts at greatness tried in vain.   
Each failure but adds weight to sorrow's chain,    
Until hands bleed from grasping at a dream    
That ever taunts beyond life's dismal stream.    
 Yet something primal in the heart still stirs,    
And spurns surrender—the spirit ever spurs.  

Sunken in cloisters of a narrow mind,    
Genius unborn awaits the breath of time    
To rouse its slumber, though the world may never    
Know the treasures harbored there forever.    
What jewels lie buried in the human soul,    
Too deep for shallow shovels to unearth—   
What symphonies unwritten might extol    
Grandeur concealed beyond all mortal worth!     
Yet no applause resounds for knowing this:    
Achievements only earn the world's dismiss.

Half-formed visions swirling through the night,    
Hopes that glimmer faintly by dawn's light,    
Labors fruitless, knowledge never known—    
All dissolve without remark, no laurel shown.    
Life's great gifts still sleep in potential's womb,    
Never emerging from that soundless tomb.    
Though seeds of genius everywhere abound,    
Few will blossom from such barren ground.    
For who can thrive devoid of light and air?   
Suffocated silence is their only share.  

Stretching out imploring hands that grasp    
At sunbeams in a cloud's collapsing clasp,    
The soul exalts though none regard its height—   
Its triumph is invisible to sight.    
Yet knowing this, some lunge for heights unknown,   
While others slumber on ambitions overthrown.   
Between the two, a chasm wide extends:    
Yearning, or acquiescing as life ends.    
One scales the summit veiled in cloud and mist,    
The other wanders, an indifferent tourist.  

No beating drums or blaring horns resound    
When obscure victories at last are found.   
In stillness, with no thought of recompense,    
The determined will builds cog by cog—immense    
Cathedrals from small stones, magnificence    
From fragments fused in patterns too immense    
To grasp at first glance by the common eye—    
Yet step by step the makers edify.    
Without or within, no raucous bells peal loud—   
Their only applause lies in results endowned.  

Grit flows on ghostly streams none behold,    
Spilling round rocks rugged, gray, and old—  
Currents concealed, unheard, before they gain    
Force to sculpt shorelines, carve the land again.    
So human effort, drops coalesced over years,   
Slowly reshapes even granite spears.    
Unseen the process, gradual and obscure—    
Attention waits for results firm and sure.    
Yet patient flow will wear down mountains vast:    
Perseverance conquers all at last.

Beyond the mist no promised shores appear,    
Nor through the fog rings any bell clear—    
Onward we row though deaf and blind, bereft    
Of charts or beacons; only onward left.    
Dim shapes half-guessed beyond the veil invite;    
Imagined odysseys lure vagrant knights    
Whose quests seem fruitless, visions turned to grief—    
Yet something compels them onward, past belief    
In what's discerned or known; some urge still draws—    
The audacity of defiant cause.   

No calm trance binds the restless mind content    
With limits by mortal bounds circumscribed;    
Some impulse primal, permanent, unbent,   
Spurns satisfaction—always further pined.    
Aspiring, onward, upward, without cease:   
This motto etched in every human heart,   
Despite the anguish, urges toward release—  
To burst bonds, break free, and thus depart    
From the familiar, plunging over edges    
Into the strange, where mystery privilege pledges.

What worth is effort if no soul divines    
The spiraled shell secreted within?   
Its luster gleams unveiled for none but mine—    
Still I craft beauty to grace my inner shrine.    
Let all else be damned: this labor's for me.    
Let critics scorn the forms they fail to see.    
Their blinder gazes grant me liberty    
To embroider marvels, wage imagination's war,   
Spin magic silently behind the door   
They never unlock, content with surfaces.    
While outwardly I nod, within my mind traverses

Horizons far beyond their farthest sights,    
Strange wonders bloom from secret seeds by night—   
Exotics never grown beneath harsh light.    
I smile enigmatic, knowing my domain    
Extends past edges where their thought grows numb.    
Why speak of flowers whose names would mean nothing—  
Frail orchids in rare hothouses nursed to bloom    
For my eyes only? Let doubters maintain    
Their plausibility, never hinting what might loom    
Outside their garden walls. So I sustain    
Two worlds: one shown, one hidden beyond reason—    
The first accepted, the latter, brighter by far.

Plodding on familiar, well-mapped roads,    
Most travel paths of safety, ease, repose,   
Shying from jungles, wastelands, the unknown—    
All that might threaten dolorous comforts of home.    
Yet a daring few detour down less-trodden ways,  
Drawn by the novel, spurred by curiosity—    
Happy to lose themselves in strange, chaotic maze,    
Rather than slumber through life tamely.    
Distance bestirs the explorer's heart    
Away from mundane bounds, beckoning: Depart!    
New horizons ever summon wandering knights    
To abandon old for new delights.

When the summit stays veiled in cloud and mist,    
With no guide or path, what leads exist    
To indicate the course? Only within    
Persists the impulse to ascend and win    
Through the trackless wild by faith alone—    
To gain the heights though none have ever shown    
The way. But faith itself becomes the light    
To pierce the gloom and carve trajectory.    
So too in life when no rewards appear,    
And doubts arise to quench all inner fire,    
Those who persist change doubt itself to sheer    
Audacity that lifts them ever higher.   

No sealing walls enclose the seeking mind;    
It soars unchecked by fearing humankind    
Who mock its flights toward realms unseen, unknown—  
Mystic spheres their timid gazes shun.    
Let them reside in safe familiar nooks,    
Content with well-thumbed books and sidelong looks    
That peer no further than their yard's neat border—    
Wereawara, never daring to wander    
Into wild woodlands tangled dense with possibility,    
Where few worn paths lead on. Not for such minds, the audacity    
To explore beyond customs, leap outside of categories—    
To embrace ideas airy, of form contrary,    
That take shape slowly, outside expectations.    
Minds unfettered by convention's strictures and traditions

Alone pose questions to unearth insights    
From spheres ethereal, unseen to common sights.    
Abandoning the sure, they welcome ambiguity,    
Multiplicity, alternatives that disagree    
With rigid dogmas gripped tight by those who demand    
Singularity, purity, order close at hand.    
While others cling to their rails built straight and high    
To keep imaginings safely penned in, those who defy    
All fences, break loose to roam, tramp untracked zones—    
Their minds range restless even when their bodies, lanquid, stay home.   

High above earthly plains, no glory shines    
On peaks remote, majestic, yet unknown.    
Ice gleams pristine under unheard winds that whine    
Through deathly crevasses with no flag shown    
To mark the summits reached by mortal will    
Against fell odds none can foresee or tally—   
Those landmarks loom immense, concealed, and still,    
Save when avalanches roar in winter's fury,    
Reminding lowlands that aloft, unvanquished titans exist    
Though frail men have never gazed upon their misty tryst,    
Nor known what dreams and schemes churn silent in such minds—    
Thoughts abstract as glaciers, patient yet transforming whole climes.

When no acclaim greets victory long-sought,    
Only the resolute persist through pain    
With inner vision fixed beyond all fraught    
Earthly struggle. Ever and again    
They must renew their pact with difficult endeavor    
And spurn paths promising sure constant pleasures,    
Remembering: Perhaps just over the next high hill, fortune’s favor    
Will reveal meaning, clicking life’s puzzle pieces    
Into a glimpse of pattern larger than petty pursuit    
Of passing renown and gold in purse to hoard or loot.    
Look up and on! Though clouds conceal the peaks now,    
Gales and sunlight soon unveil them. Plod on.

Though blood and tears blur sight, still stumble higher—   
Through heaven's grace, your goal gleams nigh.    
Cling fast to inner promptings, that celestial fire    
Which whispers: Onward! Glory lurks hard by.   
For those endowed with grit, great tests await    
To try their mettle to utmost extremes.    
Let others frolicking in meadows prate    
Of easy triumphs in their flimsy dreams.    
But you, you envoys meant for sterner stuff—  
Ascend, ascend, spurning trails deemed enough    
By multitudes. Blaze new routes, carve the path    
No mortal yet has trod: such is your aftermath.  

In arctic wastes, no voice or color stirs the void    
Where ice and iron desolation grip the land,    
And granite sky melds with white peaks, devoid    
Of mark or measure, fathomless on every hand.    
There in monastic capsule, practically entombed,    
The inner eye wakes to worlds unseen within.    
While those who point and mock stand disentombed    
In multiplicities of meaningless distraction and din,    
You shun such static shallowness for solemn sequestration.    
When silence and shadow surround, the spirit finds elation    
In flights toward disembodied truth beyond all earthly wanting.    
So self dissolves, and universal significance takes form in scanting.

While others revel and bask in fortune's glow,    
Continuing to perfect skills long mastered,    
The restless soul seeks new unbeaten snow    
To break trail through, unflattered and unflustered    
By flashy trophies tossed to compliant minds.    
A harder path calls those who would transcend    
The common lot, not being of their kind    
Who wallow in their comforts without end.    
To scale sheer Everests veiled in cloud    
Requires a breed hewn of unique mettle,    
Ones who beyond the limits of the crowd    
Quest higher, spurning safety for the nettle    
And thorn of the untried. With strained lungs, they ascend.

Success bears bitter fruit: acclaim arrives    
Only when shrewd crowds spy advantage    
In cheering triumphs. Quickly interest dives    
Once some new sensation claims utterance.    
Fickle is their fidelity, and fickler still    
Their grasp of what indeed merits lauds.    
So rather court obscurity until    
Some lasting victory earned truly applauds    
Thy constancy. Pursue perfection for its own sake;    
Shun public favor, and eschew shortcuts that make    
Heroes of the glib but leave true worth unknown.    
To thine own self be true, heed wisdom’s tone.

So many strive, so few succeed, that most    
Refuse to face their failure, donning masks    
Of smug indifference to hide what they have lost    
Or never gained. Behind their brazen basks    
In counterfeit contentment, often lurks    
Envy for any who climbed higher, stood out,    
While they stayed back in earth's circumscribed works    
And now rationalize not deviating from that route.    
But you, incautious climber, took the dare    
To trespass on rarefied air, enter holy ground    
Few dare approach, and fewer breathe that lofty hound   
So suffer twinges of doubt, but praise your proud ascent there.  

What worth a peak attained if none applaud?    
Only the climber knows the unpaid cost    
In sweat and strain to gain the summit hard-    
Won where no fanfare's heard, no lauded toast    
Proclaims the triumph only one or two    
Comprehend. Yet inwardly, they celebrate    
Attaining the impossible, the all-too    
Remote conceived as actual. Privately elate,    
They treasure the feat beyond measure,    
Though it may earn scowls and scorn from human kind.    
Celestial chords resound for those who find    
Grandeur, not needing multitudes to endorse the treasure.   

When obscured by cloud and ether shrouds,    
Far from mortal ken and cares,    
A secret summit ever crowds    
Ambition's blueprints, fueling prayers    
That someday, somehow, legs might yet gain    
That pure blind peak no foot has stepped upon.    
Perhaps only after death shall eyes glimpse    
Terrain trod solely in daydreams, now won    
At last, when breath and bone no more constrain.    
Wait patient—paradise postponed may prove preferable.    
To attain all here and now might render soul too sated.    
Leave room for hope's horizon, ever receding as we approach.

All strive: some fail, some half-succeed,    
And fewer still truly attain    
Ideals immortal. But none concede    
That labor spent might be in vain—    
For in the striving, strength and skills arise    
Beyond what fate or fortune could impart.    
And those who fall just short of the high prize    
Still stand enriched by having climbed this far.    
No journey is wasted that leads within.    
Those who ascend halfway see more than those asleep.    
Those who glimpse the summit even briefly keep    
All of the vision, though they must descend again.   

So few comprehend what profit lies    
In only halfway reaching toward the heights.    
They mark no value in the incomplete try    
That fails to grasp elusive longings out of sight.    
Yet upward yearning itself lifts our limited lot    
And lends significance beyond bounded living.    
Aspiring beyond mortal confines bespeaks something unbounded    
In essence, if not achievement. Each striving    
Sings of souls once transcendent, now contained    
In clay shells that retain remnants of wings    
And glimmers of starfire. Each effort sustains    
Promethean hope that this fallen self might sing

Again the lost anthem of its full fiery flight    
Above twilight terrains that veil heavenly light.    
No Sisyphean fate binds and grinds the defiant one    
Who still leans toward luminosity barely begun.   

Though clouded in mystery, the golden heights    
Summon us onward, no matter how darkened    
The world seems. Beyond mundane site,    
Lures the ideal, more real than what's hardened    
Into familiar shapes. Intimations    
Loom through the mist, promising epiphany.    
So strive we must, without clear indications    
Of how or why—only that eternity    
Flickers its tongues in each earthly thing    
That compels us contrary to mortal bounds.    
Heed that fire, shun the mimetic rounds    
Which extinguish all inner gifts that might wing

The self aloft, out of gravity's claw    
Into untrammeled belows, above all law    
That levels existence to flat plain and murk.    
Follow a gleam too radiant to stay unseen, though furtive.  

This ceaseless striving shapes significance    
On our fleeting stage. The curtain will fall—    
Let it find us straining to bridge the immense    
Divide between mundane life and heaven's high hall.    
When the drama concludes, what matters is not    
What others marked or missed in our role—    
But whether we dared give life every ounce, every thought,    
To realize the ideal resounding in the soul.    
Other actors play safe within chalked confines.    
Not you: for you smash the props and tear away lines    
To live Truth crouched latent in the script's divine design—  
While the multitude sleeps, you create to heights sublime.

On far horizon, veiled by distance,    
Hovers the possible, the not-yet-been.   
Mists shape ephemeral shapes, Johnny Appleseedstance—  
Hazy potentials fetchingly unseen.    
Oh to traverse this cosmic wilderness    
Which lures all who foreswear mapped terrain    
For possibilities more endless    
Than realities.

Yet still we rise, our eyes fixed on the prize

That glimmers gold, promising paradise

Once we withstand the furnace fires and prove

Our mettle sterling, worthy of high stoves

Where metal is tested and forged into

Finer grades unknown to the common view.

Ascend, champions, through smoke and searing pain!

Glory awaits all who the gauntlet sustain.
Let not silence dishearten, nor doubt detain-

Ever the peak calls through the mist and rain

To rouse bold hearts. Waver not, giants destined

For feats unheralded but heaven-blessed. Stand

Unshaken by world's disregard. Soon shall shine

Your day of glory, if you climb faith's incline.
Stay true to the quest that stirs in your breast

Though no mortal yet can attest

To that urge sublime- our kind's divine bequest.

It whispers: You, soar higher than all the rest!

Unfurl those wings, O spirit unconfined,

And take swift flight into the promising wind!
Rise above night's shadows into morning splendor-

Dawn's dazzle awaits persistent ascendance.

Breast the cold air bravely, brooking no surrender.

Winning the summit, gasp glory's fragrance!
Your daybreak nears, O striving heart-

Keep climbing, though cloaked in dark.

The night passes, light soon charts

A path to your pinnacle. Depart

From dormancy! Awaken the fire within,

And strive for greatness, dauntless one. You shall win.

About this poem

This poem beautifully explores the theme of ambition, perseverance, and the relentless pursuit of one's goals despite obstacles, doubts, and the absence of external recognition. It emphasizes the intrinsic value of striving and the inner fire that drives individuals to reach for greatness, even if their efforts remain hidden from the world. The poem encourages readers to continue their quests, venture into the unknown, and transcend the confines of conventional expectations. In the end, it suggests that true success is found in the unwavering commitment to one's personal aspirations, even if they go unnoticed by the world. 

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Written on June 01, 2022

Submitted by Mawphniang.Napoleon on November 04, 2023

15:13 min read
2

Quick analysis:

Scheme Text too long
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 17,620
Words 3,012
Stanzas 57
Stanza Lengths 8, 8, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 11, 12, 12, 12, 14, 10, 12, 12, 12, 12, 13, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 4, 12, 4, 12, 8, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1

Mawphniang Napoleon

Mawphniang is a person who is always striving to live life to the fullest. He is someone who is always open to new ideas and ways of living and is unafraid to take risks in order to explore the unknown. He is passionate about life and is always looking for ways to make use of his time and energy. He has an inquisitive nature, and is always looking for answers to life's mysteries and questions. Though Mawphniang does not pretend to have all the answers, he is determined to taste life and live a simple life, without overcomplicating things. He's a person who appreciates the small moments and cherishes the little things in life. He enjoys spending time in nature, exploring the world, and connecting with people. He is a person who is always up for a new adventure and never stops learning. He is on a daily journey of self-discovery, trying to make sense of the world and his place in it. more…

All Mawphniang Napoleon poems | Mawphniang Napoleon Books

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    What year was "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" originally published?
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