Oh! why those narrow rules extol?
by James Joseph Sylvester
These but restrain from ill,
True virtue lies in strength of soul
And energy of will.
To all that's great and high aspires,
Prompts to the path of fame
From Heaven draws down Promethean fires
And wraps the soul in flame.
With brow erect, eye undismayed
Confronts the midday sun,
Nor sleeps inglorious in the shade
Of praises cheaply won;
Scans not too curiously the chance
Of good or evil fate,
But with a free and fearless glance
Knocks at Hope's, golden gate;
The truthful course pursues and knows
By Heaven-imparted light,
And scorns to shape to outward shows
Its conscious sense of right.
Still, while it renders Reason's name
The meed of honour due
Forgets not sacred instincts claim
Their share of reverence too.
The frown of unjust censure braves,
Retreats not with the tide,
But nobly stems and stills the waves
Of prejudice and pride.