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Robert L. Peters

13 September 2011

In this short span between my fingertips and the smooth edge and these tense feet cramped to a crystal ledge, I hold the life of a man.

Geoffrey Winthrop Young (1876-1958), climber, poet, educator, author, and conscientious objector

Geoffrey lost a leg during World War I… though he continued alpine climbing for years thereafter, using a specially designed artificial leg that accepted a number of attachments for snow and rock work. He even climbed the Matterhorn in 1928. Following is a poem he wrote that references his struggles over his loss…

I have not lost the magic of long days:
I live them, dream them still.
Still I am master of the starry ways,
and freeman of the hill.

Shattered my glass, ere half the sands had run,—
I hold the heights, I hold the heights I won.
Mine still the hope that hailed me from each height,

mine the unresting flame.

With dreams I charmed each doing to delight;
I charm my rest the same.
Severed my skein, ere half the strands were spun,—
I keep the dreams, I keep the dreams I won.

What if I live no more those kingly days?
their night sleeps with me still.
I dream my feet upon the starry ways;
my heart rests in the hill.
I may not grudge the little left undone;
I hold the heights, I keep the dreams I won.

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