Courage isn’t a brilliant dash,
A daring deed in a moment’s flash;
It isn’t an instantaneous thing
Born of despair with a sudden spring
It isn’t a creature of flickered hope
Or the final tug at a slipping rope;
But it’s something deep in the soul of man
That is working always to serve some plan.
Edgar Guest talks about the way courage can be projected by a human being. He lists out the common beliefs about the origination of courage in a person. He breaks the myths that is attached to courage. Rather than explaining what courage is and how it can manifest in a person, he starts the poem by stating what courage is not, and how it is not an instant realisation.
He says that courage is not something that can be called brilliant when it is forced. It is not exhibited only in times of need. For example, when one is caught up in a fire, one tries to escape through various means. But the courage that is exhibited is not triggered by the incident itself, rather it is an inborn one. Courage is not something that one does in a daring situation that only lasts for a few seconds. Courage does not peep its head out during a time of crisis and vanish after that. It is not a momentary phenomenon.
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Courage already exists within you
Courage is not an instant behaviour. A person who is calm otherwise, does not feel the courage to take up a task, all of a sudden. His sudden action only means that he had always been a courageous person. It is not born all of a sudden because of despair. One does not muster courage instantly like a string that is pulled only out of necessity. Courage is not what one brings up when he feels lost and as a last ray of hope. It can stand by itself and is not doubtful or flickering hope. It is the confidence that one has in oneself. He compares this idea with a tug of war game where one gives a final tug, on realising that the rope is slipping away from him. This is done with a final hope to win. Courage is not the doubtful tug, done with flickering hope.
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Courage is not a flickering final tug
Guest then goes on to say that courage does not present itself instantly, but it is a feeling that is permanent in all human beings. It is rooted deep into the soul of a person, meaning that it is an inborn feeling. Courage may not be evidently displayed at all times of a human's life, But it has always existed, working towards the time when it actually has to manifest. It keeps itself ready at all times and comes out as soon as there is a purpose to be served.
Meaning of difficult words:
CourageMental or moral strength to do something
BrilliantVery clever, bright
DashThe act of something occurring suddenly
FlashAs fast as the light
Instantaneous Happening extremely quickly
FlickerTo appear for a short time, getting on and off
SoulThe inner part of a person that contains his/her deepest feelings
ManifestTo reveal itself
ExhibitTo show clearly
MomentaryExisting only for a short time
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-1 English Standard-7. Courage - Edgar Albert Guest (pp. 121-124). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.