To A Young Friend Devoting Himself To Philosophy.

A poem by Friedrich Schiller

Severe the proof the Grecian youth was doomed to undergo,
Before he might what lurks beneath the Eleusinia know
Art thou prepared and ripe, the shrine the inner shrine to win,
Where Pallas guards from vulgar eyes the mystic prize within?
Knowest thou what bars thy way? how dear the bargain thou dost make,
When but to buy uncertain good, sure good thou dost forsake?
Feel'st thou sufficient strength to brave the deadliest human fray,
When heart from reason sense from thought, shall rend themselves away?
Sufficient valor, war with doubt, the hydra-shape, to wage;
And that worst foe within thyself with manly soul engage?
With eyes that keep their heavenly health the innocence of youth
To guard from every falsehood, fair beneath the mask of truth?
Fly, if thou canst not trust thy heart to guide thee on the way
Oh, fly the charmed margin ere th' abyss engulf its prey.
Round many a step that seeks the light, the shades of midnight close;
But in the glimmering twilight, see how safely childhood goes!

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