Editor’s Note: Over the millennia, great men and women have passed down their wisdom–little pieces of the grand puzzle–in the form of poems, letters, essays, and stories. We’d like to share these writings with you in a new segment called A Hero’s Handbook. In each installment we’ll post a short poem, letter, essay, or story that will inspire you to become the hero of your life story. We’ll explore a wide variety of authors, past and present, including Demosthenes, Francis Bacon, John Adams, and John C. Maxwell to see their words on living and leading with loyalty, duty, fortitude, and honor. So, we encourage you each week to get comfortable, settle into your easy chair, and immerse yourself in the wisdom of influential men.

Have there been hard chapters in your life? Was there ever a time when your courage and endurance were broken? It is interesting that we refer to these times as “chapters”. The part of a novel we appreciate most is the crisis––the moment when the rug is pulled from beneath the protagonist’s feet––because without conflict there is no plot. We love also the fantastic movie scenes, when the heroes snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Take a moment and think from a character’s perspective: he does not know how the plot ends. He is living in the hell and chaos and can only see the looming shade of defeat. Perhaps it is like that in our lives; if we only embraced the trials and pushed a little further, we would be the heroes. In a poem recently penned by a writer from my hometown (a close friend of mine, Arthur Darkling), this duality of hating the hard seasons yet longing for adventure is addressed in an interesting way.


By A. R. Darkling

On again, through the storm, into the fury

One more time I plunge, to the edge of night.

My death, it seems, is called by the jury,

The Fates decree I shall not last this fight.

Black, wicked heart though I might now possess,

I am redeemed by this virtuous trait:

I celebrate in these adverse contests,

And decide my own path to Heaven’s gate.

I will not bow nor scrape before this foe

I’ll point my prow down beneath his thunder

Laughing! Rejoicing! At his menacing row.

Battle and storm will my soul not sunder.

Whatever judgement God may pass on me,

With all my grimness gone I’ll charge the beast.

Now, in earnest, to begin the melee,

I will earn my place at that grandest Feast.