Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
VI. Human Experience
The Cost of Worth
Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819–1881)
From “Bitter Sweet”

THUS is it all over the earth!
  That which we call the fairest,
And prize for its surpassing worth,
            Is always rarest.
Iron is heaped in mountain piles,        5
  And gluts the laggard forges;
But gold-flakes gleam in dim defiles
            And lonely gorges.
The snowy marble flecks the land
  With heaped and rounded ledges,        10
But diamonds hide within the sand
            Their starry edges.
The finny armies clog the twine
  That sweeps the lazy river,
But pearls come singly from the brine        15
            With the pale diver.
God gives no value unto men
  Unmatched by meed of labor;
And Cost of Worth has ever been
            The closest neighbor.
*        *        *        *        *
All common good has common price;
  Exceeding good, exceeding;
Christ bought the keys of Paradise
            By cruel bleeding;
And every soul that wins a place        25
  Upon its hills of pleasure,
Must give it all, and beg for grace
            To fill the measure.
*        *        *        *        *
Up the broad stairs that Value rears
  Stand motives beck’ning earthward,        30
To summon men to nobler spheres,
            And lead them worthward.

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