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Summit - Per Ardua Ad Alta

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Summit - Per ardua ad alta     Summit - Per ardua ad alta
Per ardua ad alta
Our school motto was embossed on the shield shaped badge pinned to our hats, embroidered on the top pockets of blazers and printed boldly on the front of every exercise book. Addressing an assembly of new First Year pupils, which included me, the formidable looking head teacher gave the meaning as ‘by hard work reach the top’, something we had to remember and live up to.
There is a stone built monument on the top of a hill close to where we stay at Queenshill, Dumfries & Galloway. It’s known as Neilson’s Monument. James Beaumont Neilson (1792-1865) was an engineer in an ironworks. He invented a method of increasing fuel efficiency of the blast furnace, quite by chance when he was in the process of trying to solve a problem with it. His son, Walter Montgomerie Neilson erected the monument to his father’s memory.On one of our visits we decided to walk up. There was a lane, a cow field to cross then a path leading the way. It was much further away than we realised, an ambitious ‘stroll’ up a hill, but we made it to the summit in one piece, just about - as my husband asked me about the suitability of my footwear, which were strong and sensible shoes, he tripped and landed on his derriere, very funny – the climb was worth the stunning views. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime trek.
During our time in Dumfries & Galloway last week, we went to see the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall, north of Moffat. It is reached by a scenic drive through hills and the waterfall is visible from the road, which is good as we’re not up for clambering any more. I got out of the car to take some photos and decided to climb up the embankment to get a better view. It was a bit steep for my knees and squelchy with the rain from earlier in the day, but I’d come all this way and I was going to make the most of it. Not exactly on top of the world, lots above me, but I was high enough and I hadn’t considered how I was going to get down again. These legs of mine can’t manage to get down the stairs without relying on a sturdy banister. Oopsy, reckless me. It took ages, inching my way down very slowly, each step carefully measured. I was sore the next day but every ache was worth it.
Per ardua ad alta, I’m still climbing.
“The Builders” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.

Nothing useless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.

For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our to-days and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.

Truly shape and fashion these;
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees,
Such things will remain unseen.

In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.

Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
Beautiful, entire, and clean.

Else our lives are incomplete,
Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet
Stumble as they seek to climb.

Build to-day, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall to-morrow find its place.

Thus alone can we attain
To those turrets, where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain,
And one boundless reach of sky.

  Summit - Per ardua ad alta
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