by Sam Walter Foss

Sam Walter Foss

"How is business?" asks the young man of the Spirit of the Years;
"Tell me of the modern output from the factories of fate,
And what jobs are waiting for me, waiting for me and my peers.
What's the outlook? What's the prospect? Are the wages small or great?"
"Business growing, more men needed," says the Spirit of the Years,
"Jobs are waiting for right workmen,--and I hope you are the men,--
Grand hard work and ample wages, work piled up in great arrears--
'Don't see any job particular?' Listen, and I'll tell you then.

"There are commonwealths to govern, there are senates to be swayed,
There are new states still undreamed of to be founded,
New empires in far oceans to be moulded--who's afraid?--
And a couple polar oceans to be sounded.
Come on, ye jolly empire-builders, here is work for you to do,
And we don't propose to get along without it.
Here's the little job of building this old planet over new,
And it's time to do the business. Get about it.

"Get to work, ye world-repairers. Steel the age and guide the years,
Shame the antique men with bigness of your own;
Grow ye larger men than Plutarch's and the old long-whiskered seers;
Show the world a million kings without a throne.
'What's your business?' Empire-building, founding hierarchies for the soul,
Principalities and powers for the mind,
Bringing ever-narrowing chaos under cosmical control,
Building highways through its marsh-lands for mankind.

"Sow the lonely plains with cities; thread the flowerless land with streams;
Go to thinking thoughts unthought-of, following where your genius leads,
Seeing visions, hearing voices, following stars, and dreaming dreams,
And then bid your dreams and visions bloom and flower into deeds.
'What's your business?' Shaping eras, making epochs, building States,
Wakening slumbering rebellions in the soul,
Leading men and founding systems, grappling with the elder fates
Till the younger fates shall greaten and assume the old control.

"'Business rushing?' Fairly lively. There's a world to clean and sweep,
Cluttered up with wars and armies; 'tis your work to brush 'em out;
Bid the fierce clinch-fisted nations clasp their hands across the deep;
Wipe the tired world of armies; 'tis a fair day's work no doubt.
'Business rushing?' Something doing. You've a contract on your hands
To wipe out the world's distinctions,--country, color, caste, and birth,--
And to make one human family of a thousand alien lands,
Nourishing a billion brothers with no foreigner on earth.

"Have you learned yet," says the Zeitgeist, "the old secret of the soul?
Make the sleepy sphinx give answer, for her riddle's long unguessed.
Tell the riddle; clear the mystery; bid the midnight dark uproll;
Let the thought with which the ages long have travailed be expressd.
Go and find the Northwest Passage through the far seas of the mind,--
There, where man and God are mingled in the darkness, go and learn.
Sail forth on that bournless ocean, shrouded, chartless, undefined:
Pluck its mystery from that darkness; pluck its mystery and return.

"'What's your business?' Finding out things that no other man could find,--
Things concealed by jealous Nature under locks, behind the bars;
Building paved and guttered highways for the onward march of mind
Through the spaces 'twixt the planets to the secrets of the stars.
'What's your business?' Think like Plato,--he did not exhaust all thought;
Preach like Savonarola; rule like Alfred; do not shirk;
Paint like Raphael and Titian; build like Angelo--why not?
Sing like Shakespeare. 'How is business?' Rather lively. Get to work!"

Last updated September 22, 2022