"God Make Our Blunders Wise"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The superscription to the poem reads: "Being a chant about many men, good and bad, who have led and misled mankind, from the earliest times until now." Cataloguing great men and their specific powers of greatness, the poet desires for all men these same powers. Therefore, while the purpose of his poem is secondarily to list the great deeds, its primary purpose is to raise a prayer for strong attributes and providential support. He prays for wisdom. "God keep us brooding on eternal things/ God make us wizard-kings," he says, recalling the wisdom of Amenophis IV. Confucius becomes a model of wisdom also, the example of traditional wisdom. He prays for bravery. Moses, Caesar, and St. Paul are among his examples of brave men. "God help us build, like mastermen,/ God help us to be brave." He prays also for vision, happiness, strength, holy fear, and other virtues. As gifts from God he prays for "honest peace," instruction, perception, assistance, and divine guidance. Remembering that the mistakes of Columbus were turned into a blessing and disclosed a wisdom beyond the times, he says:

God lead us past the setting of the sun
To wizard islands, of august surprise;
God make our blunders wise.