'I cannot deem why men toil so for Fame'

'I cannot deem why men toil so for Fame'
I cannot deem why men toil so for Fame. 
A porter is a porter though his load
Be the oceaned world, and although his road
Be down the ages. What is in a name?
Ah! 't is our spirit's curse to strive and seek.
Although its heart is rich in pearls and ores,
The Sea complains upon a thousand shores;
Sea-like we moan for ever. We are weak.
We ever hunger for diviner stores.
I cannot say I have a thirsting deep
For human fame, nor is my spirit bowed
To be a mummy above ground to keep
For stare and handling of the vulgar crowd,
Defrauded of my natural rest and sleep.
Alexander Smith

from A life-drama, city poems, etc. (London: Walter Scott, [1901])

Alexander Smith

Alexander Smith shot to fame in the early 1850s with his long poem 'A Life Drama', and is largely remembered today as the author of the poem 'Glasgow' and the prose work A Summer in Skye.

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