Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
Religious Poems
Giving and Taking
          I have attempted to put in English verse a prose translation of a poem by Tinnevaluva, a Hindoo poet of the third century of our era.

WHO gives and hides the giving hand,
  Nor counts on favor, fame, or praise,
  Shall find his smallest gift outweighs
The burden of the sea and land.
Who gives to whom hath naught been given,        5
  His gift in need, though small indeed
  As is the grass-blade’s wind-blown seed,
Is large as earth and rich as heaven.
Forget it not, O man, to whom
  A gift shall fall, while yet on earth;        10
  Yea, even to thy seven-fold birth
Recall it in the lives to come.
Who broods above a wrong in thought
  Sins much; but greater sin is his
  Who, fed and clothed with kindnesses,        15
Shall count the holy alms as nought.
Who dares to curse the hands that bless
  Shall know of sin the deadliest cost;
  The patience of the heavens is lost
Beholding man’s unthankfulness.        20
For he who breaks all laws may still
  In Sivam’s mercy be forgiven;
  But none can save, in earth or heaven,
The wretch who answers good with ill.


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