Outward And Inward Virtue

'Tis not the gift-but 'tis the spirit
With which 'tis given,
That on the gift confers a merit,
As seen by Heaven.

'Tis not the prayer-however boldly
It strikes the ear:
It mounts in vain, it falls but coldly,
If not sincere.

'Tis not the deeds the loudest lauded
That brightest shine:
There's many a virtue unapplauded,
And yet divine.

'Tis not the word which sounds the sweetest
That's soonest heard:
A sigh, when humbled thou retreatest,
May be preferred.

The outward show may be delusive,
A cheating name:
The inner spirit is conclusive
Of worth or shame.

by John Bowring

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