(20 April 1826 - 12 October 1887 / Stoke-on-Trent / England)

The Good Of It

A Cynic's Song.

SOME men strut proudly, all purple and gold,
Hiding queer deeds 'neath a cloak of good fame;
I creep along, braving hunger and cold,
To keep my heart stainless as well as my name;
So, so, where is the good of it?

Some clothe bare Truth in fine garments of words,
Fetter her free limbs with cumbersome state:
With me, let me sit at the lordliest boards,
'I love' means I love, and 'I hate' means I hate,
But, but, where is the good of it?

Some have rich dainties and costly attire,
Guests fluttering round them and duns at the door:
I crouch alone at my plain board and fire,
Enjoy what I pay for and scorn to have more.
Yet, yet, where is the good of it?

Some gather round them a phalanx of friends,
Scattering affection like coin in a crowd;
I keep my heart for the few that heaven sends,
Where they'll find their names writ when I lie in my shroud.
Still, still, where is the good of it?

Some toy with love, lightly come, lightly go,
A blithe game at hearts, little worth, little cost:--
I staked my whole soul on one desperate throw,
A life 'gainst an hour's sport. We played' and I--lost
Ha, ha, such was the good of it!

Moral: Added On His Death-Bed

TURN the Past's mirror backward. Its shadows removed,
The dim confused mass becomes softened, sublime:
I have worked--I have felt--I have lived--I have loved,
And each was a step towards the goal I now climb:
Thou, God, Thou sawest the good of it.

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