The Better Part

by Anna Blanch on March 12, 2011

 This is the earliest publication of this Nesbit poem, “The Better Part” which was included in many of her later collections. The 1888 collection, titled Easter-tide was published by E.P. Dutton.
The Better Part
‘TIS weary treading every day

The same dull dreary up-hill way,
While the ideals we deem divine
So fair and far above us shine,
As unattainable as dear.
To us who grope and stumble here.

‘Tis hard to hold our flag on high,
And never faint until we die —
To spread our banner on a wind
Scented with roses left behind —
To give up all life’s joy, that we
May humble banner-bearers be.

‘Tis hard to sing, in faith, of Light

Through endless-seeming hours of night —
To tune the harp, the voice upraise
For freedom’s sake, in honour’s praise-
To sing of good that is, not seems —
To sing of duties, not of dreams.

‘Tis hard to fix one’s sleepy eyes
On faint, faint streaks of new sunrise,
When all one’s being yearns to weep
Its tiredness out, and turn to sleep-
Sleep, and forget, and cease to care.
If sunrise be, if darkness were.

‘Tis weary fighting all one’s life
In one long bitter desperate strife
‘Gainst hydra-headed rampant wrong-
When one is fain of dance and song,
To smell the rose, and hear the fair
Soft wings of pleasure in the air.

And yet we choose the weary way,
The fighting, not the feasting day—
To wear the armour, not the flowers—
To sing of truth, while voice is ours,
Because good fight’s worst wounds are far
More dear than any pleasures are,
                      — E. Nesbit.

Anna Blanch is founder of Goannatree, and a PhD candidate in the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, Scotland where she’s presently writing her PhD thesis on E.Nesbit. She is also a regular contributor to Transpositions.

  • @prestonyancey

    Hm, I could read this as thoughts for Lent and thoughts for the artist. Groping for a sense of wholeness.

  • Hanna

    Loving the poetry Anna! I'm too lazy to find poems and read myself but when someone puts something good in front of me I definitely read and enjoy it!
    hope ur feeling better health wise!

  • Goannatree

    I'm glad you've been enjoying them Hanna! I'm feeling significantly better, thankyou! I look forward to seeing you soon!
    My recent post A Post of My Own Prose

  • Goannatree

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