Have You Set Your Standards High? [poem by Grant Hervey]

[Editor: This poem by Grant Hervey was published in Australians Yet and Other Verses, 1913.]

Have You Set Your Standards High?

Do you cringe and creep when your heart should leap — do you crawl when a king goes by?
Do you bow to Rank and its jesters dank — have you set your standards high?
Are your idols cheap — are you sure you keep your eyes on the goal ahead?
Do you march elate with a swinging gait — are your hopes diseased or dead?
Do you falter now, when you once made vow that you’d come to the front at last—
Are the blazing fires of your young desires but things of the frozen past?
Yea, I want to know if your hopes still glow, or when did you let them die?
Come, tell me straight, how your josses rate — have you set your standards high?

For some make shift with standards reft of all that is strong and true—
Aye, they slouch along in a downcast throng and how are the facts with you?
Are you marking time in a pool of slime have you dropped to the rear of life?—
Stand up like a man in the fighting van — wade into the red-hot strife!
Are you pent in the lair of a long despair — has your heart ceased pumping Blood?
It shall beat again with a stern refrain — it shall throb with a steadfast thud!
It shall pump fresh strength, and you’ll rise at length — you will pass all barriers by ;
Aye, you’ll reach your goal ere the long years roll if you set your standards high!

Set them up as far as the furthest star, and fight for your heart’s belief;
Come up to the scratch — and nail the latch of the useless door of grief!
There’s room for the man who will sternly ban all fear and doubt and dread;
Will you make a stand for our own dear land — are you moribund or dead?
Does a single spark still light the arc of your gloomy, faded hopes?—
You may yet be boss, though you hump your cross — you may heave Fate limp on the ropes!
I ask you here to abandon fear, and to cease to moan and sigh—
Come along with Me to the victory, for I’ve set my standards high!

* * * * *

Do you cringe and creep when your heart should leap — do you crawl when a king goes past?
Do you bow to Rank and its jesters dank? — then wake to this trumpet-blast!
Are your idols cheap — are you sure you keep your eyes on the goal ahead;
Do you march elate with a swinging gait — are your hopes diseased or dead?
Do you falter now, when you once made vow that you’d come to the front in time—
Are the blazing fires of your young desires banked up with ash and slime?
Yea, I want to know if your hopes still glow, or when did you let them die?—
Come, tell me straight, how your josses rate — Have you set your standards high?




Source:
Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 94-96

Editor’s notes:
josses = gods; a joss was a Chinese figure of a deity, or god, often housed in a shrine (Chinese buildings of worship became colloquially known as “joss houses”)

Rank = a reference to nobility and upper classes

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