Random Musings of A Mad Bookseller


It must have been in 9th grade or so when I first read the poem in my high school English class.  The imagery of the poem entranced me !  It became one of my favorite poems.  Like a piece of clothing washed too many times , life and time washed away the vibrant memory of the poem and replaced it with something faded and fragmentary.    College came and I fell in love with other poets such as Boudelaire  and somewhere along the way I discovered one of my life long favorite poems “The Hound of Heaven” penned by Francis Thompson .  Long after high school and long after college shards  of that poem would often manifest themselves into my consciousness.  It was a poem that would be classified as being a poem of inspiration and defiance – a type of poem that suited me perfectly.


For some reason the phrase “Find a way or make it”  became a powerful mantra for me – even though I lost full memory and couldn’t find the poem associated with that line. I searched for it in libraries and in books of poetry , but for years I was unable to find the poem associated with the above line.  Along came the internet and the world wide web and I continued my search for the poem there.  I wasn’t obsessed with the poem or the phrase  , I simply wanted to read the poem again and enjoy it like I had enjoyed it when I was in high school.  I was profoundly disappointed in my search to find this poem.  I would often find the phrase , but never found the poem from which the phrase had been extracted nor the writer who penned the poem.  I mostly gave up trying to find the poem , then one day I decided to search again on the web for the poem and I found it !  I was ecstatic !  The poem is one that was taught to most school children of my age – I can only hope that it is still taught –


Here it is  –


I’ll find a way or Make it


It was a noble Roman

in Rome’s imperial day

Who heard a coward croaker

Before a castle say

“They’re safe in such a fortress;

There is no way to shake it !”

“On ! On ! ” exclaimed the hero :

“I’ll find a way , or make it!”


Is fame your aspiration ?

Her path is steep and high ;

In vain he seeks her temple ,

Content to gaze and sigh.

The shining throne is waiting

But he alone can take it

Who says with Roman firmness

I’ll find a way , or make it!”


Is learning your ambition ?

There is no royal road ‘

Alike the peer and peasant

Must climb to her abode ‘

Who feels the thirst for knowledge,

In Helicon must slake it,

If he has still the Roman will

“To find a way , or make it ”


Are riches worth the getting ?

They must be bravely sought ;

With wishing and with fretting

The book can not be bought ;

To all the prize is open ,

But only he can take it ,

Who says , with Roman courage

“I’ll , find a way , or make it”


John Godfrey Saxe


The poem inspired me when I first heard it  and I  have continued to be inspired by the poem  till this very day.  Whenever I find myself in a situation where I might easily give up , I think “I will find a way or make it!”


It has been a while since any of my children went to high school. I don’t know if this poem is still read – I don’t know if poetry is still an important part of the high school curriculum.  I hope that it is.


I have hundreds of poetry books in my book store.  Once in a while someone stops and buys a book on poetry.  I hope they become inspired by something that they read in one of those books.  I have many poems and pithy sayings hanging up around my store – I hope someone takes the time to read them.  I also hope someone takes the time and at least finds some modest enjoyment from one of my own poems –


I wrote this poem a few years ago – deep inside the despair that often comes upon me when the days grow shorter –




November stalks me

as surely as spring fell upon me months ago

Grey skies

The sun sulks

Stealing minutes after minutes of daylight

as he goes to bed earlier and earlier each day

Cold rain falls like a dagger

chilling me to my bones

Winters wind follows as cold December

hides in the shadows placing himself

innocently in the glow of Thanksgiving’s delights

covering himself with promises of candy canes

and Christmas gifts

I know December for what he is

The harbinger of white January’s ice and snow

Somewhere far off February’s reflection

of two faced Janus almost hides his promise of

an introduction to longer days

And March in his fickleness

Who can’t seem to make up his mind

November stares at me with no pretense

Behind cold grey skies

Winter’s icy chill will soon

bear upon my breast

digging  it’s way into my sinews

filling  me with the dread of   chills and colds

At least November makes no pretense

Announcing himself with bluster and fanfare

I know him for who he is

He’s been keeping the promises of October

laying the trees bare

and shortening my afternoons

He  holds the seeds of deep Decembers solitary gloom

No bright blue skies are his

No fragrant day or wistful night

He put an end to my bike rides

made me close my windows

and spend more money to turn up the heat

he’s a thief and an assassin

stealing away sunny skies

and removing the life from the few plants that survived Octobers warmer days and less frigid nights

I put out no welcome mat for him !

But  he didn’t come unannounced ,

each spring day with its warmth and mirth

carried him as a promise

each summer day with long lasting evenings

and the intoxication of jasmine

hid him in their pocket

and now his mocking face

has come as I knew it would

but unbeknownst to even him

hid within his very essence

is the inevitable

and longed

for return of spring

when April will blare like a loud trumpet

and November’s grey skies

will be a minor chord hidden within the joyful song of warmer days

CJohn Pollard 2008



Yes – I do prefer the English grey to the dull and drab American gray.  I hope someone likes my poem. I am apparently full of them and sometimes they just pop out.


I am –

John Pollard


Brick and Mortar and on the net

Hopeless Romantic  ,  Lover of Poetry and likely related to Don Quixote as I am constantly tilting at windmills




1 thought on “Random Musings of A Mad Bookseller”

Comments are closed.