(1849) by Alice Cary
True worth is in being, not seeming,— In doing, each day that goes by, Some little good—not in dreaming Of great things to do by and by. For whatever men say in their blindness, And spite of the fancies of youth, There’s nothing so kingly as kindness, And nothing so royal as truth. We get back our mete as we measure— We cannot do wrong and feel right, Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure, For justice avenges each slight. The air for the wing of the sparrow, The bush for the robin and wren, But always the path that is narrow And straight, for the children of men. ’Tis not in the pages of story The heart of its ills to beguile, Though he who makes courtship to glory Gives all that he hath for her smile. For when from her heights he has won her, Alas! it is only to prove That nothing’s so sacred as honor, And nothing so loyal as love! We cannot make bargains for blisses, Nor catch them like fishes in nets; And sometimes the thing our life misses Helps more than the thing which it gets. For good lieth not in pursuing, Nor gaining of great nor of small, But just in the doing, and doing As we would be done by, is all. Through envy, through malice, through hating, Against the world, early and late, No jot of our courage abating— Our part is to work and to wait And slight is the sting of his trouble Whose winnings are less than his worth. For he who is honest is noble Whatever his fortunes or birth.