O Forces and Potentialities that circumscribe the destinies of men, move me always to know the right thing to do.  Let me always in my decisions and actions lean rather toward equanimity than ardor.  Grant me that I may not be rattled or lose my head in any clutter or confusion that may arise, and on the other hand, let me not be oblivious to the proper time for recklessness.

Give me a stout heart to face entrenched error, and a tender feeling for all the despised, rejected and forsaken of mankind.  Let me not be maudlin in my pity; let me feel my kinship with all men in such manner that I may sympathize in just measure with those on the pinnacles of opulence, and with those at the bottom of the pit.

Make me a good mixer among people, one who always passes along the Good Word.  Let me laugh in the right places; deliver me from dogmatism; and lead me to think no man’s opinion final.  Provide that I be sensitive to criticism, yet proof against insult and badgering.  Give me a keen eye for the main chance, but give me to remember that I can take nothing hence.

Free me from grim resolves; teach me gently to fasten my attention on the thing at hand and proceed at it with patience, faith, and inward gaiety that wears out opposition.  Constrain me to common sense; keep me from trying to take anything that is nailed down; purge me of any desire that may project me into a stone wall; nevertheless, let me not forget that all great works are absurdities till done.  Let me reach for unknown stars that are beyond my grasp rather than clutch at baubles of custom and superstition.

May the potencies of song and laughter abide with me ever.  Assuage my toil with a lust for beauty, and with a forgetfulness of self that means a Higher Selfhood.  And above all, Eternal Giver of all Good, if I don’t accomplish what I plan, give me, I pray you, to smile at my losses, pick up the shattered ideal, and pass on to another try.

a young Carl Sandburg

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