THE TEMPLE – A POEM BY EDGAR ALAN GUEST
By Edgar Alan Guest
You may delve down to rock for your foundation piers,
May go with your steel to the sky
You may purchase the best of the thought of the years,
And the finest of workmanship buy.
You may line with the rarest of marble each hall,
And with gold you may tint it; but then
It is only a building if it, after all,
Isn’t filled with the spirit of men.
You may put up a structure of brick and of stone,
Such as never was put up before;
Place there the costliest woods that are grown,
And carve every pillar and door.
You may fill it with splendors of quarry and mine,
With the glories of brush and of pen —
But it’s only a building, though ever so fine,
If it hasn’t the spirit of men.
You may build such structure that lightning can’t harm,
Or one that an earthquake can’t raze;
You may build it of granite, and boast that its charm
Shall last to the end of all days.
But you might as well never have builded at all,
Never cleared off the bog and the fen,
If, after it’s finished, its sheltering wall
Doesn’t stand for the spirit of men.
For it isn’t the marble, nor is it the stone
Nor is it the columns of steel,
By which is the worth of an edifice known;
But it’s something that’s living and real.
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