I memorized this poem as a child—not for a project, but because a poster of it hung on the wall of my schoolroom, and poetry is more interesting than math (every student is entitled to her own opinion).
The author (and we're not quite sure who it is) understands trying, wanting, fighting, striving. And most poignant to the human experience, the desire to give up in the face of overwhelming odds.
He grants that this is valid.
Then he turns the desire to give up into the reason to keep fighting.
don't you quit
when things go wrong as they sometimes will
when the road you're trudging seems all uphill
when the funds are low and the debts are high
and you want to smile, but you have to sigh
when care is pressing you down a bit
rest if you must, but don't you quit
life is queer with its twists and turns
as every one of us sometimes learns
and many a fellow turns about
when he might have won had he stuck it out
don't give up when the pace seems slow
you might succeed with another blow
often the goal is nearer than
it seems to a faint and faltering man
often the struggler has given up
when he might have earned the victor's cup
and he learned to late when the night came down
how close he was to the golden crown
success is failure turned inside out
the silver tint in the clouds of doubt
and you can never tell how close you are
it might be near when it seems afar
so stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
it's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
—either edgar a. guest or john green leaf whittier or maybe someone else