“Troubled, frustrated” by Leonard Bacon

Photo credit: Quite Peculiar on Flickr

Yesterday I was strolling through Midtown Sacramento when I came across a few boxes of books on the sidewalk. A man on a nearby lawn told me they were free for the taking, so I picked up a 1959 anthology of the best of Harper’s Magazine.¬†When I got home I opened to a random page and read this thought-provoking poem. I had trouble finding any copies of it online, so in the interest of making it more available for public enjoyment, I’m reposting it here. All credit goes to Leonard Bacon and Harper’s Magazine. This was published in their September 1954 issue.

Troubled, frustrated–

Troubled, frustrated, ill-behaved,
And by fantasy enslaved,
He has not braved what should be braved.

He has not dared what should be dared,
But cared — Who cares for what he cared? —
And later, like a fool despaired,

Though even in that dark he knew,
However false, he must grow true,
Still trusting what he trusted to.

He has more often than he ought
Trafficked in what he thought was thought,
Until by sharp experience taught

That it was but a hurricane,
Small, but enough to break a brain
not well designed for stress and strain.

Try courage. From exposed conceit,
From bitterness at length complete,
Men learn the measure of the Sweet,

And from their deep excogitate
Height which they cannot estimate,
Remote, superb, inviolate.