Poetry and Epigrams

By Everett Ruess

I thought that there were two rules in life — never count the cost and never do anything unless you can do it wholeheartedly. Now is the time to live

By the strength of my arm, by the sight of my eye,
By the skill of my fingers, I swear,
As long as life dwells in me, never will I Follow
any way but the sweeping way of the wind.

Along I will follow the dark trail, black void on one side and unattainable heights on the other, darkness before and behind me, darkness that pulses and flows and is felt. Then suddenly, an unreal breath of wind coming from infinite depths will bring to my ears again the strange, dimly-remembered sound of the rushing water. When that sound dies, all dies.

On canyon trails when warm night winds blow
Blowing and sighing gently through the star-tipped pines,
Musing, I walked behind my placid burros
While water rushed and broke on painted rocks below

Adventure is for the adventurous.
My face is set.
I go to make my destiny.
May many another youth be by me inspired to leave the snug safety of his rut, and follow fortune to other lands.

God, how the wild calls to me.
There can be no other life for me but that of the lone wanderer.
It has an irresistible fascination. The lone trail is the best for me.

At evening I would go out into the glade and climb high above the river to the base of the cliff. I would gather scarlet flowers and come down when the stars gleamed softly. Sighing winds would eddy down the canyon, swaying the tree tops. Then the leaves would cease their trembling; only the sound of rippling water would continue, and the spirit of peace and somnolence would pervade and the red embers of my fire one by one turned black and shadows deepened into a gently surging slumber.

Beauty isolated is terrible and unbearable, and the unclouded sight overkills the beholder. His only refuge is in insignificant things, in labor that keeps the mind from thought, and in companionship that gives back to the ego some of its former virility. But he who has looked long on naked beauty may never return to the world, and though he should try, he will find its occupation empty and vain, and human intercourse purposeless and futile. Alone and lost, he must die on the altar of beauty.

Always I shall be one who loves the wilderness:
Swaggers and softly creeps between the mountain peaks;
I shall listen long to the sea's brave music;
I shall sing my song above the shriek of desert winds.

When I go I leave no trace.
The beauty of the country is becoming a part of me.
Now the aspen trunks are tall and white in the moonlight.
A wind croons in the pines, The mountain sleeps.

Say that I starved, that I was lost and weary;
That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun;
Footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases;
Lonely and wet and cold, but that I kept my dream!

Alone, I shoulder the sky,
And hurl my defiance
And shout the song of
the conqueror
To the four winds,
Earth, sea, sun, moon, and stars.