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.
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, 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.
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.
Guest says that courage cannot be the last thing that a person executes when he has lost his hopes on everything. It cannot be the final weapon that one tries to use when one does not have anything else to apply. Courage is not one's last option or last resort in a time of crisis. He applies the same idea to both the work of life and a game of sport. For example when a cricketer loses hope in his chances of winning and chooses to take a chance in the final over and hits sixers, it is not courage that popped up at the last minute. The courage had always been there in him during the game. That is what forced him to perform well at the last minute.
Courage is not a final weapon when one loses hope
Just like how a man cannot muster courage at the last minute, he also cannot gather up courage for a future event, anticipating what is to happen. It is not something that a man can call for when he feels that he is about to fall. He cannot summon courage at his own will, only when he needs it. It cannot come naturally to a person during an emergency unless he has always had it in him. If he does not possess it in him in the present, then there is no way he can muster it instantly when the strain is great or the pace is hot ie. during anxious and difficult times.
One cannot gather courage for the future
Guest says that one who strives to achieve great goals in the future, one who has dreams to attain, should belong to the category of people who have courage as an innate character and not look for it in the last minute, only in times of need. Since goals are distant and is mostly achieved in the future, the courage to attain them should be embedded within one's soul.
Courage makes a person not give up on his dreams
Guest says that courage is not like a dazzling light. A light that is dazzling can appear beautiful and attractive for a moment and one might be carried away by its sudden brightness. But courage is not a momentary flash that occurs and vanishes. Courage stays forever and does not pass away from one's sight. It does not give a guest entry into a person's life. It remains forever.
Courage is not a rushed phenomenon. It is rather a slow and unwavering characteristic that one possesses. During a time of need, what one needs to work out, is the way that one can handle a situation without panic. Courage helps one to face a situation. He also says that it is ingrained, meaning that any external forces do not stimulate it, but it is a force from within. He breaks the myth that courage is always acting immediately, on impulse. He says that courage does not always have to be fighting for something, rather it could also mean waiting patiently and working hard without losing hope.
Courage is patiently working towards one's dream
Courage is the will to go on when one's life is filled with hurdles. He gives an example of the sky being blue, indicating the occasional sorrow in a man's life. Courage is when a man's life is filled with work and he chooses to do it without complaining. One can never claim to have gotten rid of courage. A brave man always has it within himself. He always possesses it, even when there is no need for him to exhibit courage. Courage is not just about big achievements but also about small steps. It is not instilled all of a sudden, but a brave person always has it within him but knows when he has to show it.
Courage can be the small steps
Guest says that courage is not a characteristic that was just designed so that one can show off to people. It does not mean that when one does something courageous, one has to boast about it. Courage has to be normalised, irrespective of how things turn out to be. Like he had mentioned earlier, courage does not come and go, acting like a lamp that can be switched on and off. Courage stays throughout and does not expect people's recognition or praise.
Courage stays throughout one's life
Most people confuse courage with success. They assume that a successful person might have reached that position only by exhibiting courage at the right time. Although this is true, it does not apply to all scenarios. Courage is not just about winning, but it also applies to defeat. It is staying calm and accepting the fact that losing is part of the game. When one handles the stress during defeated moments, one exhibits more courage compared to the amount of courage it took to win something. Every challenge that is posed to a man requires courage to tackle it.
Courage also means accepting that losing is part of the game
It is etched in his life forever, all through the days and nights of his life. Every hour, minute and seconds is accompanied by courage, the courage to live his life. Courage not only follows through a person's life when he is happy and smiling, it also gives the company through the sorrow and tears. People mistake courage as the factor behind only success and joy and not through tears. Courage is not just a daring deed, such as skydiving or launching spaceships, it can also be when someone takes up an exam in spite of not learning well. Courage can be present even in the most trivial things. It is like the breath of life that stays with a person throughout his life. It is the belief that a man has upon his own actions that make him strong.
Courage can be present in trivial things