“The Great Adventure” by Helen Rootham

"The Great Adventure"

To the memory of E.W.T.


One said,—'Death is a great adventure.'

It may be so. Yet being very young

I had not pictured Death as my great quest.

On the long road which lay before me

I did not see this unsuspected turning

Which I am forced to take.

I had imagined many glowing quests,

But at the end of each Life waited,

Crowned me, sent me on,

Life the beautiful, Life the renewer.

I would not have them think I fear,

Or that I grudge this thing they ask of me;

I stood upon the threshold of the world,

I saw the radiance round time un-born,

Felt the faint stirrings of the life in it,

Knew, though I could not understand,

That all I saw and felt belonged to me.

And I was glad.

Then in my hands that trustingly advanced

To take the gifts that Time new-born might offer,

I found a sword.

In my young mind which hardly yet saw clear

To order rules of life,

They wrote the rules of death.

In my young heart which had not yet lived long enough

To know its mate,

They placed an enemy full-grown;

And where I looked for Life

Death stands—The Great Adventure.


Helen Rootham's poem "The Great Adventure" was published in the 1916 "cycle" of the Wheels anthology. To read this poem in a digitized version of this publication, follow the link(s) below:


Modernist Journals Project