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Individuality

From The Seattle Star, December 31, 1913. By Berton Braley.

You can’t be Shelley or Keats or Burns,
    Or Caesar or Edmund Kean;
They had their chance and they did their turns
    And now they are gone, I ween.
And why should you copy each august shade
    Who lies on a graveyard shelf?
HE didn’t copy, his fame was made
    By being his own true self!

You can’t be Kipling or Roosevelt,
    Or Wilson or Bryan, too;
But you can be known, and you can be felt
    By being Yourself all through;
No man grows great when he imitates,
    For that is the way to fail;
The fellow who wins from the frowning fates
    Must mark out his own clear trail!

You may not reach to the heights of fame,
    For few can climb so high,
But at least you can play in the lively game
    Whenever you want to try;
You may not get to the top at all,
    Nor capture renown or pelf,
But, win or lose, or rise or fall,
    At least you can be yourself!

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