This poem is based on the famous “Man in the Arena” speech delivered by President Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
THE CRITIC & THE CONTENDER
By James Rasbeary***
From a lofty seat scornful laughter falls
As, safe and sound, the angry critic calls
To the man below, to say what he could do
If he just knew what the wise critic knew.
Criticism is all the critic’s work –
One from which he does not fail nor shirk;
‘Tis easy for him to give good advice,
And it is not hard to be so precise,
Or make the call once the play has been run,
Or, after, to say what one should’ve done.
While down below on the arena floor
Strives a man, though dirty, battered and sore;
Who wears a mask of dust, and sweat and blood,
And with weary step, struggles through the mud;
Whose whole body, mind and soul have been trained,
And in whose heart and will has been ingrained –
Through losses and the hard lessons thus learned –
That victory is not given, but earned,
Not by the critic on his lofty seat,
But by those who in the arena compete.
The man in the arena knows the cost
That is required in each win or loss;
He knows the long hours that are required
To reach the goal that is so much desired.
The contender knows he may win the crown –
No matter if the critic smile or frown –
And if he strives and falls short of his goal,
He still has abiding deep in his soul
The knowledge that he is not of that class,
Who criticize what they cannot surpass.
He scorns the critic in his lofty seat,
Who never tasted triumph or defeat.