The Kite (Poem by John Newton)

The Kite

A poem by John Newton 1725-1807

My waking dreams are best concealed,
Much folly, little good they yield.
But now and then I gain when sleeping
A friendly hint that’s worth the keeping.

Lately I dreamt of one who cried
“Beware of self, beware of pride;
When you are prone to build a Babel
Recall to mind this little fable.”

Once upon a time a paper kite
Was mounted to a wondrous height,
Where, giddy with its elevation,
It thus expressed self-admiration:

”See how yon crowds of gazing people
Admire my flight above the steeple;
How they would wonder if they knew
All that a kite like me can do?
Were I but free, I’d take a flight,
And pierce the clouds beyond their sight.

“But, ah! like a poor pris’ner bound,
My string confines me near the ground:
I’d brave the eagle’s tow’ring wing,
Might I but fly without a string.”

It tugged and pulled, while thus it spoke
To break the string; at last it broke.
Deprived at once of all its stay,
In vain it tried to soar away;

Unable its own weight to bear,
It fluttered downward through the air;
Unable its own course to guide,
The winds soon plunged it in the tide.
Ah! foolish kite; thou hast no wing;
How could’st thou fly without a string?

My heart replied, “O Lord, I see
How much this kite resembles me!
Forgetful that by thee I stand,
Impatient of thy ruling hand;

“How oft I’ve wished to break the lines
Thy wisdom for my lot assigns?
How oft indulged a vain desire
For something more or something higher.
And but for grace or love divine,
A fall thus dreadful had been mine.”