What Went You Forth to Find?

In my efforts to simplify my life I’m getting rid of some hundreds of books. I can only do this reasonably successfully when Anita works alongside me, for reasons you can probably imagine. We’d filled a Gousto box, (long story for another day), and I was about to start filling a second box when I came across a small dusty red book of poems; I was immediately undone.

Some years ago I had come across a fragment of a poem which resonated with me at the time. Try as I might I wasn’t able to find the complete poem anywhere. I put out a call for help in my search; help arrived from a most unlikely source. My son Jonathan, not a great lover of books like me, took it on himself to track down the poem. First he found its title which was a help, then he found a bookseller in Yorkshire who had just one copy of the dusty red book which contained the poem. I’ve had a small number of birthday presents which have been precious to me over the years; this is certainly one of them. Well done Jonathan.

It can be read in under a minute, but it contains a lifetime’s wisdom. I offer it to you now to reflect upon:

Everest by Horace Shipp. To all who explore new paths

What went you forth to find? What new thing would you know? What secret read in the Mother of Mountain’s blind, blind eyes? What learn at her barren breast of snow?

For what new thing should men so strive, so agonise? Is there some wonder in the remoteness beyond our ken; Some beauty; some wisdom beyond the dream of the wise?

Nay, not for that we strove, nor any new thing found; But this truth, ancient and everlasting did we prove, this beauty, This wisdom on the high untrodden ground.

That where the safe ways end, Known and unknown divide, God’s great uncharted passes upward tend And the spirit of man undaunted is undenied; and beyond the last camp-fire man has Faith for friend, and beyond all guidance the courage of God for guide.

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