by: John Boyle O'Reilly
- HE faithful
helm commands the keel,
- From port to port fair breezes blow;
- But the ship must sail the convex sea,
- Nor may she straighter go.
- So, man to man; in fair accord,
- On thought and will the winds may wait;
- But the world will bend the passing word,
- Though its shortest course be straight.
- From soul to soul the shortest line
- At best will bended be:
- The ship that holds the straightest course
- Still sails the convex sea.
MORE POEMS BY JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY
"At Best" is reprinted
from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed.
Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.