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Chapter 47

The Man and the Mountain, by D. C.

Why does the man, he climb up the mountains?

What is there to reach from the highest peak

Where snowfall and avalanche threaten his health;

What is up there that man must seek?

Higher and higher he climbs into clouds,

Condensing and sweating and melting and drowned

Until there he reaches a meadow of colour,

With bright flowers sparkling on the ground.

What does the man say when he reaches this haven?

What does he gain from the cleanest air

Apart from aroma and vitality in his nostrils

And a fine white dew settling in his hair?

Stopping for rest, he settles in the grass, idly

Plucking daisies from the earth and sighing,

Watching the swaying of trees in the distance

And overhead swallows and starlings are flying.

Why must the man then carry on his trek?

Why must he leave the most charming place

To dangle from chasms and fight through the ice,

Whose splinters chap his wearisome face.

Why must the man, he climb up the mountains?

What is there for him at the dizzying summit

That makes all the wounds and scars worthwhile;

Does it take away pain or so numb it?

And so forth he goes, ahead through the trees,

To find once again the long, icy path,

And dazzled by sunlight through the branches

He stumbles on a root and begins to laugh;

What is the point of this troublesome journey?

What’s to be gained from the challenge ahead,

Aside from the building of strength in the legs

And widening the pit of your stomach with dread?

Onwards he surges like a high river torrent,

Crashing through boulders and hurling debris

At the ungainly and continuous obstacles

That prevent all men from ever being free.

What is the man ever hoping to achieve?

Why does he leave his kin and his life

To edge past crevasses and cross ice-bridges,

When he could end it all with a slash of his knife?

Why must the man, he climb up the mountains?

Who will wait for him to come home

And greet him a hero and set out a dinner in

His own great honour for surviving the snow?

But forward he strides, great stick in his fist,

Powering through drifts of ten feet thick,

His lungs pumping back his breath as a mist

That rushes in clouds of magician’s tricks.

Why does He require we risk all our lives?

Why must we do as ambition dictates;

Leaving our home and our gardens behind

For our plants to die and waters stagnate?

There’s no time for rest and no time for thought,

With all muscles primed to send forth that man

Into green ice-canyons and impervious forts

Of towering glacial makeshift land.

Why must He, as a Commander in battle

Require of all that they risk their lives

For the glory and power of being first there

And doing this while your humanity survives?

Why must the man, he climb up the mountains?

What is it there that could not be lower,

Placed somewhere safe where humans could reach

And not up higher than the highest of towers?

Yet great is the force and strong is the will

Of that young man as he climbs up the ice,

And God’s might behind him makes stronger still

The flesh that is numb and soon that is sliced.

What must he prove to his almighty Creator?

Is it perhaps like a man and his machine;

Where he tests every component to the point

Of failure, just to check that his nose is clean?

But unlike iron, the flesh has meaning, and

Conscious thought and opinion instilled,

So as that man trudges on to his destiny,

He is safe in the knowledge that his pledge is fulfilled.

Why must the man, he climb up the mountains?

Does he have something up there to steal?

As Man is as Man does, and since fire burns,

He’ll take some and eat it to see if he feels.

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