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Character Poems

Table of Contents

Character

  1. The Bluebell by Anonymous
  2. If I Were A Sunbeam by Alice Cary
  3. The Dying Lamp by Hannah Flagg Gould
  4. The Sin of Omission by Margaret E. Sangster
  5. Nobility by Alice Cary
  6. Jane and Eliza by Ann Taylor
  7. How Strong Are You? by Amos Russel Wells
  8. Mine by Amos Russel Wells
  9. Apple Dumplings by Mary E. Tucker
  10. Slow, Slow by William Francis Barnard
  11. The Good Man by James McIntyre
  12. The Good Man by Richard Lynott O'Malley
  13. Pretty is That Pretty Does by Alice Cary
  14. The Soul-Conflict by Paul Hamilton Hayne
  15. On the Picture of a "Child Tired of Play" by Nathaniel Parker Willis
  16. Warnings by Amos Russel Wells
  17. A Sculptor by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  18. My Palace by Kate Slaughter McKinney
  19. A gentleness that grows by James Russell Lowell
  20. Beautiful Things by Ellen P. Allerton
  21. Twin-Born by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  22. Little Things by Ellen P. Allerton
  23. Be True, Boys by Henry Downton
  24. Sincerity by Kate Louise Wheeler

Conscience

  1. Belshazzar had a letter by Emily Dickinson
  2. When Nerves Are Dead by Amos Russel Wells
  3. Conscience and Remorse by Laurence Dunbar
  4. Conscience and Future Judgement by Anonymous
  5. Two Powers by William Francis Barnard
  6. The Crop of Acorns by Lydia Sigourney
  7. My Alarm Clock by Amos Russel Wells

Character

  1. The Bluebell

    The patient child whose watchful eye
    Strives after all things pure and high,
    Shall take their image by and by.

    – Anonymous
    The Bluebell
    by Anonymous

    There is a story I have heard—
    A poet learned it of a bird,
    And kept its music every word—

    A story of a dim ravine,
    O'er which the towering tree tops lean,
    With one blue rift of sky between;

    And there, two thousand years ago,
    A little flower as white as snow
    Swayed in the silence to and fro.

    Day after day, with longing eye,
    The floweret watched the narrow sky,
    And fleecy clouds that floated by.

    And through the darkness, night by night,
    One gleaming star would climb the height,
    And cheer the lonely floweret's sight.

    Thus, watching the blue heavens afar,
    And the rising of its favorite star,
    A slow change came—but not to mar;

    For softly o'er its petals white
    There crept a blueness, like the light
    Of skies upon a summer night;

    And in its chalice, I am told,
    The bonny bell was formed to hold
    A tiny star that gleamed like gold.

    Now, little people, sweet and true,
    I find a lesson here for you
    Writ in the floweret's bell of blue:

    The patient child whose watchful eye
    Strives after all things pure and high,
    Shall take their image by and by.

  2. If I Were A Sunbeam

    by Alice Cary

    "If I were a sunbeam,
    I know what I'd do;
    I would seek white lilies,
    Roaming woodlands through.
    I would steal among them,
    Softest light I'd shed,
    Until every lily
    Raised its drooping head.

    "If I were a sunbeam,
    I know where I'd go;
    Into lowly hovels,
    Dark with want and woe:
    Till sad hearts looked upward,
    I would shine and shine;
    Then they'd think of heaven,
    Their sweet home and mine."

    Are you not a sunbeam,
    Child, whose life is glad
    With an inner brightness
    Sunshine never had?
    Oh, as God has blessed you,
    Scatter light divine!
    For there is no sunbeam
    But must die or shine.


    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    – Matthew 5:16
    The Bible, KJV
  3. The Dying Lamp

    Like thee, may she, who marked thy steady ray
    Through the hushed night, and then thy quick decline,
    Yield, while she treads life's short and shadowy way,
    Some cheering light, with purpose pure as thine!

    – Hannah Flagg Gould
    The Dying Lamp
    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Poor Dying Lamp! thou now art low and pale;
    Thine oil of life is out, thy purpose o'er;
    And thou art fainting, utterly to fail;
    In a few moments thou must be no more!

    The morning star has risen, and the dawn
    Hastens to chase the scattering shades away.
    They and thy feeble flame will soon be gone,
    And both forgotten in the glorious day.

    Well—thou hast done a kindly work to-night,
    And freely worn thyself away to shed
    Through the dark, silent chamber thy soft light,
    And show the watcher to the sick one's bed.

    A mild, bright minister of good to man,
    Wasting thyself for others, thou hast been,
    Since with the evening thy short life began,
    Till o'er the world the light of heaven pours in.

    But now thou art not needed thus to cast
    Thy beams around to cheer the wakeful eye;
    Since darkness with its solemn reign is past,
    Before the morning calmly dost thou die.

    Like thee, may she, who marked thy steady ray
    Through the hushed night, and then thy quick decline,
    Yield, while she treads life's short and shadowy way,
    Some cheering light, with purpose pure as thine!

    Then, when her work is finished—when her worth
    To others in their dark, sad hours shall cease,
    Not to survive it, may she pass from earth,
    And like her dying lamp go out in peace!

  4. The Sin of Omission

    The tender word forgotten;
    The letter you did not write;
    The flowers you did not send, dear,
    Are your haunting ghosts at night.

    – Margaret E. Sangster
    The Sin of Omission
    by Margaret E. Sangster

    It isn't the thing you do, dear,
    It's the thing you leave undone
    That gives you a bit of a heartache
    At the setting of the sun.
    The tender word forgotten;
    The letter you did not write;
    The flowers you did not send, dear,
    Are your haunting ghosts at night.

    The stone you might have lifted
    Out of a brother's way;
    The bit of hearthstone counsel
    You were hurried too much to say;
    The loving touch of the hand, dear,
    The gentle, winning tone
    Which you had no time nor thought for
    With troubles enough of your own.

    Those little acts of kindness
    So easily out of mind,
    Those chances to be angels
    Which we poor mortals find—
    They come in night and silence,
    Each sad, reproachful wraith,
    When hope is faint and flagging
    And a chill has fallen on faith.

    For life is all too short, dear,
    And sorrow is all too great,
    To suffer our slow compassion
    That tarries until too late;
    And it isn't the thing you do, dear,
    It's the thing you leave undone
    Which gives you a bit of a heartache
    At the setting of the sun.

  5. Nobility

    True worth is in being, not seeming,—

    - Alice Cary
    Nobility
    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 meet 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 begulie,
    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 wait.
    And slight is the sting of his trouble
    Whose winnings are less than his worth;
    For he who is honest and noble,
    Whatever his fortunes or birth.

  6. Jane and Eliza

    by Ann Taylor

    There were two little girls, neither handsome nor plain,
    One's name was Eliza, the other's was Jane;
    They were both of one height, as I've heard people say,
    And both of one age, I believe, to a day.

    'Twas fancied by some, who but slightly had seen them,
    There was not a pin to be chosen between them;
    But no one for long in this notion persisted,
    So great a distinction there really existed.

    Eliza knew well that she could not be pleasing,
    While fretting and fuming, while sulking or teasing;
    And therefore in company artfully tried,
    Not to break her bad habits, but only to hide.

    So, when she was out, with much labor and pain,
    She contrived to look almost as pleasant as Jane;
    But then you might see that, in forcing a smile,
    Her mouth was uneasy, and ached all the while.

    And in spite of her care it would sometimes befall
    That some cross event happened to ruin it all;
    And because it might chance that her share was the worst,
    Her temper broke loose, and her dimples dispersed.

    But Jane, who had nothing she wanted to hide,
    And therefore these troublesome arts never tried,
    Had none of the care and fatigue of concealing,
    But her face always showed what her bosom was feeling.

    At home or abroad there was peace in her smile,
    A cheerful good nature that needed no guile.
    And Eliza worked hard, but could never obtain
    The affection that freely was given to Jane.

  7. How Strong Are You?

    by Amos Russel Wells

    I like a lad of muscles big.
    And lungs of shouting size
    Of active feet and figure trig
    And brightly beaming eyes;
    A lad who well can run a race.
    And push a paddle well,
    Or breast the waves with fishy grace.
    Or raise the schoolboy yell.

    But while he's strong for work and fun,
    I want him stronger still,—
    Yes, strong to help some weaker one,
    And strong of righteous will.
    And strong to pray, and strong to praise,
    And strong to answer No;
    And if he's strung in all these ways,
    He'll conquer every foe.

  8. Mine

    by Amos Russel Wells

    "Old man," the captain blustered,
    In haste to meet the foe,
    "My troops are seeking forage;
    Come! show us where to go."

    A mile he led them onward,
    To where, in beauty spread,
    They saw a field of barley,
    "The very thing!" they said.

    "Not here!" the old man urged them;
    "Have patience for a while."
    And sturdily he led them
    Another weary mile.

    The barley fleld he showed them
    They speedily despoiled;
    Ah, little need of reapers,
    Where such a troop has tolled!

    But "Fie on all this pother!"
    The angry captain cursed;
    "Old man, this second barley
    Is poorer than the first."

    "Perhaps," the good man answered,
    "It may not be so fine;
    But that field is another's
    And this field, sir, is mine."

  9. Apple Dumplings

    Then judge not by the surface, dear;
    Look deeper at the heart:
    Above the faults of earth appear
    Beneath the better part.

    – Mary E. Tucker
    Apple Dumplings
    by Mary E. Tucker

    Gaze not upon my outside, friend,
    With scorn or with disgust —
    Judge not, until you condescend
    To look beneath the crust.

    Rough and unsightly is my shell,
    But you just dues will render;
    And to the world the truth will tell,
    And say my heart is tender.

    The young may scorn my olden ways,
    With their new-fashioned notions;
    The old the insult soon repays
    By claiming double portions.

    'Tis true, like modern Misses, gay,
    The truth is sad, distressing!
    But I must now say out my say —
    I need a little dressing!

    My sauce, my rich apparel, hides
    My ugly form from sight;
    The goodness of my heart, besides,
    Will always come to light.

    Then judge not by the surface, dear;
    Look deeper at the heart:
    Above the faults of earth appear
    Beneath the better part.

  10. Slow, Slow

    by William Francis Barnard

    Slow, slow, the long hours go;
    Slow comes the day;
    But hard, hard, the strength must strain
    That drives the night away.
    Slow, slow, the rivers flow;
    Slow swells the tree;
    But strong, strong, with pressing urge,
    Their force strives on to be.

    Slow, slow, the great airs blow;
    Slow comes the wind;
    But long, long, the powers must toil
    Which follow close behind.
    Slow, slow, and to and fro,
    Move all the oceans wide,
    But vast, vast, must be the stress
    That dwells within the tide.

    Slow, slow, doth wisdom grow;
    Slow comes the right;
    But staunch, staunch, must effort stand
    To move things with its might.
    Slow, slow, our life we know:
    Slow comes brotherhood;
    But brave, brave be human hearts
    To win the world for good.

  11. The Good Man

    by James McIntyre

    Cheerful and happy was his mood,
    He to the poor was kind and good,
    And he oft' times did find them food,
    Also supplies of coal and wood,
    He never spake a word was rude,
    And cheer'd those did o'er sorrows brood,
    He passed away not understood,
    Because no poet in his lays
    Had penned a sonnet in his praise,
    'Tis sad, but such is world's ways.

  12. The Good Man

    by Richard Lynott O'Malley

    I met a man on Life's thronged way,
    And thought at once that man was good;
    I learned to know him; strange to say,
    Still thought I that the man was good.
    A virtue loves he, not for praise,
    But for that virtue's sake; to daze
    By show disdained he, Years his ways
    I watched, and still, O still I thought him good.

    Ah! ask you why, amidst the van
    Of heroes, place I him who ran
    His race of life in goodness true?
    Ask you what marvel did he do?
    Duty to God, and self, and man!
    He ended good as he began;
    Such men, alas, are few!

  13. Pretty is That Pretty Does

    by Alice Cary

    The spider wears a plain brown dress,
    And she is a steady spinner;
    To see her, quiet as a mouse,
    Going about her silver house,
    You would never, never, never guess
    The way she gets her dinner.

    She looks as if no thought of ill
    In all her life had stirred her;
    But while she moves with careful tread, And
    while she spins her silken thread,
    She is planning, planning, planning still
    The way to do some murder.

    My child, who reads this simple lay,
    With eyes down-dropt and tender, Remember
    the old proverb says
    That pretty is which pretty does,
    And that worth does not go nor stay
    For poverty nor splendor.

    'Tis not the house, and not the dress,
    That makes the saint or sinner.
    To see the spider sit and spin,
    Shut with her walls of silver in,
    You would never, never, never guess
    The way she gets her dinner.

  14. The Soul-Conflict

    by Paul Hamilton Hayne

    Defeated! but never disheartened!
    Repulsed! but unconquered in will,
    Upon dreary discomfitures building
    Her virtue's strong battlements still,
    The soul, through the siege of temptations,
    Yields not unto fraud, nor to might,
    Unquelled by the rush of the passions,
    Serene 'mid the tumults of fight.

    She sees a grand prize in the distance,
    She hears a glad sound of acclaims,
    The crown wrought of blooms amaranthine
    The music far sweeter than Fame's
    And so, 'gainst the rush of the passions
    She lifts the broad buckler of right,
    And so, through the glooms of temptation,
    She walks in a splendor of light.

  15. On the Picture of a "Child Tired of Play"

    by Nathaniel Parker Willis

    Tired of play! Tired of play!
    What hast thou done this live-long day!
    The bird is silent and so is the bee,
    The shadow is creeping up steeple and tree;
    The doves have flown to the sheltering eaves,
    And the nests are dark with the drooping leaves;
    Twilight gathers, and day is done,—
    How hast thou spent it, restless one?

    Playing! And what hast thou done beside
    To tell thy mother at eventide?
    What promise of morn is left unbroken?
    What kind word to thy playmate spoken?
    Whom hast thou pitied, and whom forgiven?
    How with thy faults has duty striven?
    What hast thou learned by field and hill,
    By greenwood path and by singing rill?

    There will come an eve to a longer day
    That will find thee tired,—but not with play!
    And thou wilt learn, as thou learnest now,
    With wearied limbs and aching brow,
    And wish the shadows would faster creep
    And long to go to thy quiet sleep.

    Well will it be for thee then if thou
    Art as free from sin and shame as now!
    Well for thee if thy tongue can tell
    A tale like this, of a day spent well!
    If thine open hand hath relieved distress,
    And thy pity hath sprung to wretchedness—
    If thou hast forgiven the sore offence
    And humbled thy heart with penitence;

    If Nature's voices have spoken to thee
    With her holy meanings, eloquently—
    If every creature hath won thy love, From the creeping worm to the brooding dove—
    If never a sad, low-spoken word
    Hath plead with thy human heart unheard—
    Then, when the night steals on, as now
    It will bring relief to thine aching brow,
    And, with joy and peace at the thought of rest,
    Thou wilt sink to sleep on thy mother's breast.

  16. Warnings

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Firm-fastened on the dreary bar
    Where sands alone and surges are,
    Two exiles from the pleasant land,
    The dead and ugly pine-trees stand.

    Half hurled in the rising tide
    Some of their shameful wounds they hide,
    But withered tops against the skies
    Show ever where the channel lies.

    Thus, half displayed above the wave,
    Half hurled in a living grave,
    Some scoundrels tarry here below,
    To point where safety lies, and woe.

  17. A Sculptor

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    As the ambitious sculptor, tireless, lifts
    Chisel and hammer to the block at hand,
    Before my half-formed character I stand
    And ply the shining tools of mental gifts.
    I'll cut away a huge, unsightly side,
    Of selfishness, and smooth to curves of grace
    The angles of ill-temper.

    And no trace
    Shall my sure hammer leave of silly pride.
    Chip after chip must fall from vain desires,
    And the sharp corners of my discontent
    Be rounded into symmetry, and lent
    Great harmony by faith that never tires.
    Unfinished still, I must toil on and on,
    Till the pale critic, Death, shall say, "'Tis done."

  18. My Palace

    by Kate Slaughter McKinney

    I built me a little palace,
    Somewhere in the ether land,
    Wherein my soul might revel
    And rest at my command.
    The spot, a royal summit,
    I let my will select,
    And Fancy came inspecting
    With Thought, the architect.

    We went down to the quarry
    For the foundation rock,
    And purchased hewn and polished
    Love’s marble corner block.
    For years we toiled together,
    And one day warm and sweet
    I woke and found my palace
    Before me and complete.

    It was a gorgeous building—
    The window lights of red
    Came from the sunset’s furnace,
    Or Northern light instead.
    Each peak, each tower and turret
    The sunlight’s love had won,
    And straight there came a voice
    From heaven and said “well done.”

    I planted a grove beyond it,
    And hedged up the terraced yard,
    And I dug a groove so a brooklet
    Could play on the level sward.
    I wanted a flower to cheer me,
    And off on a breezy slope
    I scattered the seed of roses
    And the purple heliotrope.

    I peopled the rooms with volumes
    Of men with talents rare,
    Who climbed upon Fame’s spire
    And waved their banners there.
    I purchased the costliest paintings,
    And swung them from the walls;
    And music, like harps of heaven,
    Resounded throughout the halls.

    I gave a royal banquet,
    The nuptial feast was spread,
    And then, when all was ready,
    There Love and I were wed.
    But when the guests departed,
    A rap came on the door,
    And a gaunt figure faced me
    I ne’er had seen before.

    “My name,” she said, “is Envy;
    I wish to stop with you;
    Your dwelling just completed,
    The inmates must be few.”
    Her breath, like fumes of sulphur,
    Into my face was blown,
    And like a demon’s curses
    Was her departing tone.

    The night came on, and fingers
    Tapped on the beveled glass,
    A face looked in the window
    With eyes that shone like brass;
    But Love beheld the visage,
    And o’er the window drew
    A shade that shut Suspicion
    Forever from my view.

    And then a pond’rous knocking
    Bombarded at the door,
    And like an earthquake’s tremor
    Upheaved the palace floor.
    I glanced into the key-hole,
    And, like the brand of Cain,
    I saw on Slander’s forehead
    A dark and bloody stain.

    I barred the palace entrance,
    And turning in the hall
    We faced another figure
    More dreadful than them all;
    He said: “My name is Ruin—
    Unbidden here I stand,
    To curse your happy homestead
    And desolate your land.

    “The lichen I have sprinkled
    Upon your crumbling tower,
    The ivy and the myrtle
    Shall choke each blooming flower.”
    And then he smote the castle,
    It trembled to its base,
    And fell? No, no—I shouted
    And laughed out in his face:

    “You can not wreck our palace,
    Love is the corner stone,
    And we are master workmen,”
    I said, in jocund tone.
    He seized his trailing garments,
    Departed with a groan,
    And love and I together
    Were once more left alone.

    Next day as they debated
    What course to next pursue,
    I heard a sweet voice calling—
    Love said the tone he knew.
    The step, low as a mother’s
    Upon the nursery floor,
    Was like advancing music
    That halted at our door.

    As when a fairy’s castle
    Yields to a magic key,
    Our door swung on the hinges
    The guest was—Sympathy.
    “Come in, our worthy sister,”
    I heard Love then repeat;
    “For happiness without you
    Could never be complete.”

    And while we sat together,
    Weaving our garland sweet,
    For many a bridal altar,
    For many a burial sheet,
    We heard another footstep;
    And, like an angel sent,
    There came and smiled upon us
    The face we loved—Content.

    The circle was completed—
    My palace stands sublime
    Still on that cloudland summit,
    And laughs at threats of Time.
    No curses thunder o’er us,
    No heavy rains can fall;
    For heaven’s open window
    Slants sunshine over all.

  19. A gentleness that grows

    by James Russell Lowell

    A gentleness that grows of steady faith;
    A joy that sheds it sunshine everywhere;
    A humble strength and readiness to bear
    Those burthens which strict duty ever lay'th
    Upon our souls;—which unto sorrow saith,
    "Here is no soil for thee to strike thy roots,
    Here only grow those sweet and precious fruits;
    Which ripen for the soul that well obey'th;
    A patience which the world can neither give
    Nor take away; a courage strong and high,
    That dares in simple usefulness to live,
    And without one sad look behind to die
    When that day comes;—these tell me that our love
    Is building for itself a home above.

  20. Beautiful Things

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Beautiful faces are those that wear—
    It matters little if dark or fair—
    Whole-souled honesty printed there.

    Beautiful eyes are those that show,
    Like crystal panes where hearth fires glow,
    Beautiful thoughts that burn below.

    Beautiful lips are those whose words
    Leap from the heart like songs of birds,
    Yet whose utterances prudence girds.

    Beautiful hands are those that do
    Work that is earnest, brave and true,
    Moment by moment the long day through.

    Beautiful lives are those that bless
    Silent rivers and happiness,
    Whose hidden fountains few may guess.

    Beautiful feet are those that go
    On timely ministries to and fro—
    Down lowliest ways, if God wills it so.

    Beautiful shoulders are those that bear
    Ceaseless burdens of homely care
    With patient grace and with daily prayer.

    Beautiful lives are those that bless
    Silent rivers and happiness,
    Whose hidden fountains but few may guess.

    Beautiful twilight, at set of sun,
    Beautiful goal with race well run,
    Beautiful rest, with work well done.

    Beautiful graves, where grasses creep,
    Where brown leaves fall, where drifts lie deep
    Over worn out hand—oh, beautiful sleep.

  21. Twin-Born

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    He who possesses virtue at its best,
    Or greatness in the true sense of the word,
    Has one day started even with that herd
    Whose swift feet now speed, but at sin's behest.
    It is the same force in the human breast
    Which makes men gods or demons. If we gird
    Those strong emotions by which we are stirred
    With might of will and purpose, heights unguessed
    Shall dawn for us; or if we give them sway
    We can sink down and consort with the lost.
    All virtue is worth just the price it cost.
    Black sin is oft white truth, that missed its way,
    And wandered off in paths not understood.
    Twin-born I hold great evil and great good.

  22. Little Things

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    We call him strong who stands unmoved—
    Calm as some tempest-beaten rock—
    When some great trouble hurls its shock;
    We say of him, his strength is proved:
    But, when the spent storm folds its wings,
    How bears he then Life's little things?

    About his brow we twine our wreath
    Who seeks the battle's thickest smoke,
    Braves flashing gun and sabre-stroke,
    And scoffs at danger, laughs at death;
    We praise him till the whole land rings;
    But—is he brave in little things?

    We call him great who does some deed
    That echo bears from shore to shore,—
    Does that, and then does nothing more:
    Yet would this work earn richer meed,
    When brought before the King of kings,
    Were he but great in little things.

    We closely guard our castle-gates
    When great temptations loudly knock,
    Draw every bolt, clinch every lock,
    And sternly fold our bars and gates:
    Yet some small door wide open swings
    At the sly touch of little things!

    I can forgive—'tis worth my while—
    The treacherous blow, the cruel thrust;
    Can bless my foe, as Christians must,
    While Patience smiles her royal smile:
    Yet quick resentment fiercely slings
    Its shots of ire at little things.

    And I can tread beneath my feet
    The hills of Passion's heaving sea,
    When wind-tossed waves roll stormily:
    Yet scarce resist the siren sweet
    That at my heart's door softly sings
    "Forget, forget Life's little things."

    But what is Life? Drops make the sea;
    And petty cares and small events,
    Small causes and small consequents,
    Make up the sum for you and me:
    Then, O for strength to meet the stings
    That arm the points of little things!

  23. Be True, Boys

    by Henry Downton

    Whatever you are, be brave, boys!
    The liar’s a coward and slave, boys!
    Though clever at ruses
    And sharp at excuses,
    He’s a sneaking and pitiful knave, boys!

    Whatever you are, be frank, boys!
    ’Tis better than money and rank, boys!
    Still cleave to the right,
    Be lovers of light;
    Be open, aboveboard, and frank, boys!

    Whatever you are, be kind, boys!
    Be gentle in manners and mind, boys!
    The man gentle in mien,
    Words, and temper, I ween,
    Is the gentleman truly refined, boys!

    But, whatever you are, be true, boys!
    Be visible through and through, boys;
    Leave to others the shamming,
    The “greening” and "cramming"
    In fun and in earnest, be true, boys!

  24. Sincerity

    by Kate Louise Wheeler

    To self and to God be loyal and true,
    Fear not what others may say or may do,
    But what at best you appear;
    Gird on your armor and stand for the right,
    Honest in purpose and earnest in might,
    Then shall your soul be sincere.

    Banish each doubt and deception and dream,
    Be the real saint that to others you seem,
    Dare to face tempters alone;
    Lift up your banner and fear not the foe,
    Valiant in service wherever you go,
    Sincerity claimeth her own.

  25. Conscience

  26. Belshazzar had a letter

    by Emily Dickinson

    Belshazzar had a letter, —
    He never had but one;
    Belshazzar's correspondent
    Concluded and begun
    In that immortal copy
    The conscience of us all
    Can read without its glasses
    On revelation's wall.

  27. When Nerves Are Dead

    by Amos Russel Wells

    When the nerve is alive, and the dentist cuts and grinds,
    There are fully fifty pains he invariably finds
    There are pains that are hot, there are pains that are cold,
    There are big and swelling pains that the mouth can hardly hold,
    There are pains like a needle, there are pains like a saw,
    There are pains that explode and other pains that gnaw—
    When the nerve of the tooth is alive.

    When the nerve is dead, let the dentist grind away,
    You can sit and smile, quite at ease and even gay;
    He can do his worst, and he doesn't hurt a bit,
    He can chisel and bore and you hardly think of it.
    But the tooth, alas! needs the nerve to keep it well
    And it soon decays and becomes a brittle shell
    When the nerve of the tooth is dead.

    When the nerve of the soul is alive to sin and woe,
    How we groan at wrongs, and we will not have them so,
    How we sigh and weep at the weary lot of man,
    How we tug and pull just to help the best we can,
    How we heal the sick, how we bolster up the weak,
    How we range afar as the wretched lost we seek,
    When the nerve of the soul is alive.

    When the nerve of the soul is dead we live at ease,
    Sin, woe, and want,—let them ravage as they please.
    Let the wicked rule, let the weary faint and fall,
    We are deaf and blind to the sorrow of it all.
    But alas! for the soul as it slowly shrinks away,
    As it rots and fades in an ugly, swift decay,
    When the nerve of the soul is dead.

  28. Conscience and Remorse

    I cried: "Come back, my conscience;
    I long to see thy face."
    But conscience cried: "I cannot;
    Remorse sits in my place."

    – Paul Laurence Dunbar
    Conscience and Remorse
    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    "Good-bye," I said to my conscience —
    "Good-bye for aye and aye,"
    And I put her hands off harshly,
    And turned my face away;
    And conscience smitten sorely
    Returned not from that day.

    But a time came when my spirit
    Grew weary of its pace;
    And I cried: "Come back, my conscience;
    I long to see thy face."
    But conscience cried: "I cannot;
    Remorse sits in my place."

  29. Conscience and Future Judgement

    by Anonymous

    I sat alone with my conscience,
    In a place where time had ceased,
    And we talked of my former living
    In the land where the years increased;
    And I felt I should have to answer
    The question it might put to me,
    And to face the question and answer
    Throughout an eternity.

    The ghosts of forgotten actions
    Came floating before my sight,
    And things that I thought had perished
    Were alive with a terrible might;
    And the vision of life's dark record
    Was an awful thing to face—
    Alone with my conscience sitting
    In that solemnly silent place.

    And I thought of a far-away warning,
    Of a sorrow that was to be mine,
    In a land that then was the future,
    But now is the present time;
    And I thought of my former thinking
    Of the judgment day to be;
    But sitting alone with my conscience
    Seemed judgment enough for me.

    And I wondered if there was a future
    To this land beyond the grave;
    But no one gave me an answer
    And no one came to save.
    Then I felt that the future was present,
    And the present would never go by,
    For it was but the thought of a future
    Become an eternity.

    Then I woke from my timely dreaming,
    And the vision passed away;
    And I knew the far-away warning
    Was a warning of yesterday.
    And I pray that I may not forget it
    In this land before the grave,
    That I may not cry out in the future,
    And no one come to save.

    I have learned a solemn lesson
    Which I ought to have known before,
    And which, though I learned it dreaming,
    I hope to forget no more.

    So I sit alone with my conscience
    In the place where the years increase,
    And I try to fathom the future,
    In the land where time shall cease.
    And I know of the future judgment,
    How dreadful soe'er it be,
    That to sit alone with my conscience
    Will be judgment enough for me.

  30. Two Powers

    by William Francis Barnard

    The power of wrong
    Is iron strong;
    Is the power of right, then, weak?
    The power of right
    Is a greater might
    Than thou can'st think or speak.

    Each claims the world.
    Right's word is hurled
    That it bears fear of none;
    But wrong foregoes
    War, till it knows
    Some foul advantage won.

    Where'er they clash
    And great blows crash,
    Wrong, fearful, counts each friend;
    Let friends be few,
    Let none be true,
    Right battles till the end!

    They struggle still
    Through well and ill;
    Wrong tricks its every blow.
    With brave sword hand
    Right still would stand
    In fair fight with its foe.

    Through time's full length
    Wrong guards its strength
    As if it feared its fate;
    Right risks its all,
    To stand or fall,
    With patience which can wait.

    Once wounded sore,
    Wrong strives no more,
    But trembling with its smart,
    Flees from disdain,
    To staunch its pain,
    And hide its coward heart.

    On every field
    Where it must yield,
    Right fears no mortal thrust,
    But rises there
    Still strong to dare,
    Though struck down to the dust!

    Wrong's falsest power
    Fails hour by hour,
    And ever stands at bay;
    But the heart of right
    It thirsts for fight,
    Grown stronger every day.

    Till one by one
    Lies flee the sun,
    And the war-worn years are sped,
    And the last bold deed
    Is right's good meed,
    And wrong sinks, stricken dead.

    The power of wrong
    Is strong, thrice strong,
    And the fearful cringe and cry;
    But a blow shall fall
    To end it all,
    Ere the years of man go by!

  31. The Crop of Acorns

    by Lydia Sigourney

    There came a man, in days of old,
    To hire a piece of land, for gold,
    And urg'd his suit in accents meek,
    "One crop alone, is all I seek.
    That harvest o'er, my claim I yield,
    And back to you resign the field."

    The owner, some misgiving felt,
    And coldly with the stranger dealt,
    But found at length his reasons fail,
    And honied eloquence prevail,
    So took the proffer'd price in hand.
    And for one crop, leas'd out the land.

    The wily tenant sneer'd with pride,
    And sow'd the soil with acorns wide,
    At first, like tiny shoots they grew.
    Then broad and wide, their branches threw,
    But long before those oaks sublime
    Aspiring reach'd their forest prime.
    The cheated landlord mould'ring lay
    Forgotten with his kindred clay.

    Oh ye, whose years unfolding fair,
    Are fresh with youth and free from care,
    Should vice or indolence desire
    The garden of your soul to hire,
    No parley hold,—reject their suit,
    Nor let one seed the soil pollute.

    My son, their first approach beware,
    With firmness break the insidious snare,
    Lest, as the acorns grew and throve
    Into a sun-excluding grove,
    Thy sins, a dark, o'ershadowing tree,
    Shut out the light of heaven from thee.

  32. My Alarm Clock

    by Amos Russel Wells

    There's a little dumpy sergeant that calls me to the fray,
    Arousing me from slumber at five o'clock each day.
    At five o'clock precisely he hammers at my door,
    And breaks in forty pieces my most delightful snore.

    This little dumpy sergeant, so prompt and so precise,
    He calls me once with vigor, but he never calls me twice.
    If I choose not to hear him and shut my eyes again,
    Why, I may wake myself up at—nine o'clock or ten.

    There's another little sergeant, who hammers on my heart;
    Who pommels me so briskly he makes me sting and smart.
    While I lie down in darkness and shut my eyes to sin,
    This little sergeant, Conscience, awakes me with his din.

    But ah, this little sergeant, so prompt and so precise,
    He also seldom calls me but once or twice or thrice.
    "Wake up!" he cries, "arouse you, or sleep forevermore!"
    Ah, heed the little sergeant while he is at the door!

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