You are the fellow that has to decide
Whether you’ll do it or toss it aside.
You are the fellow who makes up your mind
Whether you’ll lead or will linger behind
Whether you’ll try for the goal that’s afar
Or just be contented to stay where you are.
Take it or leave it. Here’s something to do!
Just think it over — It’s all up to you!
What do you wish? To be known as a shirk,
Known as a good man who’s willing to work,
Scorned for a loafer or praised by your chief,
Rich man or poor man or beggar or thief?
Eager or earnest or dull through the day,
Honest or crooked? It’s you who must say!
You must decide in the face of the test
Whether you’ll shirk it or give it your best.
Nobody here will compel you to rise;
No one will force you to open your eyes;
No one will answer for you yes or no,
Whether to stay there or whether to go.
Life is a game, but it’s you who must say,
Whether as cheat or as sportsman you’ll play.
Fate may betray you, but you settle first
Whether to live to your best or your worst.
So, whatever it is you are wanting to be,
Remember, to fashion the choice you are free.
Kindly or selfish, or gentle or strong,
Keeping the right way or taking the wrong,
Careless of honor or guarding your pride,
All these are questions which you must decide.
Yours the selection, whichever you do;
The thing men call character’s all up to you!
Poem at allpoetry and virginia.edu.
HT: Elizabeth M