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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Wisdom
By Coventry Patmore (1823–1896)
 
WHAT’S that which Heaven to man endears,
  And that which eyes no sooner see
Than the heart says, with floods of tears,
  “Ah, that’s the thing which I would be!”
Not childhood, full of frown and fret;        5
  Not youth, impatient to disown
Those visions high, which to forget
  Were worse than never to have known;
Not great men, even when they’re good;—
  The good man whom the Lord makes great,        10
By some disgrace of chance or blood
  He fails not to humiliate;—
Not these: but souls, found here and there,
  Oases in our waste of sin,
Where everything is well and fair,        15
  And God remits his discipline;
Whose sweet subdual of the world
  The worldling scarce can recognize,
And ridicule against it hurled
  Drops with a broken sting, and dies;        20
Who nobly, if they cannot know
  Whether a scutcheon’s dubious field
Carries a falcon or a crow,
  Fancy a falcon on the shield;
Yet ever careful not to hurt        25
  God’s honor, who creates success,
Their praise of even the best desert
  Is but to have presumed no less;
And should their own life plaudits bring,
  They’re simply vexed at heart that such        30
An easy, yea, delightful thing
  Should move the minds of men so much.
They live by law,—not like the fool,
  But like the bard, who freely sings
In strictest bonds of rhyme and rule,        35
  And finds in them not bonds, but wings.
They shine like Moses in the face,
  And teach our hearts, without the rod,
That God’s grace is the only grace,
  And all grace is the grace of God.        40
Their home is home; their chosen lot
  A private place and private name:
But if the world’s want calls, they’ll not
  Refuse the indignities of fame.
 
 
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