Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHARITY, by JOHN GARDINER CALKINS BRAINARD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CHARITY, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Sweet charity! Thou of the kindest voice
Last Line: The eye no longer weeps, the heart no longer bleeds.
Subject(s): Charity; Philanthropy

SWEET Charity! thou of the kindest voice,
Of lightest hand, of softest -- meekest eye,
And gentlest footstep, making but the noise
Of a good angel's pinions floating by,
Go forth! but not to dwellings where the sigh
Of poverty and wretchedness is heard,
Not to the hovel, nor the human sty,
Where conscience, O! how burningly, is seared,
Where Heaven is scarcely known, and Hell but little feared.
Sweet spirit, Go not there. There thou hast been,
And seen, nor pity, nor relief bestowed
By woman's eye, nor by the hand of men,
On them who bear such miserable load;
What votary hast Thou, at their abode?
What kind heart brings its tearful off'ring there,
And, grieved that 't is no more, lifts up to God
Its humble, earnest, holy, secret prayer,
Breathed mid the low and vile, in winter's midnight air?
Go to the rich, the gay, and the secure,
Bold be thy step, and heavy be thy hand,
Knock loud and long, at Fashion's partial door,
And swell thy voice to terror's bold command;
And he, who builds upon extortion's sand,
He, of the purple and the linen fine,
Owner of widow's stock and orphan's land,
Shall shuddering turn from his untasted wine,
And feel, that to do well, his all he should resign.
Go to the lovely, not in sighing smiles,
At which the thoughtless fool might smiling sigh,
-- Scatter her freaks, her follies, and her wiles,
With the stern beauty of religion's eye;
Teach her the tear of grief-- of shame to dry,
To drop on frailty meek compassion's balm,
To do aright-- to feel aright-- to try
Her envious, hateful passions first to calm;
Then shed upon her soul, not on her face thy charm.
Go to yon Pharisee -- the heartless wretch,
That prates of holiness, and hunts for sin,
For faults of others ever on the stretch,
All gaze without, and not one glance within;
And worse, much worse, not one kind wish to win
A sinner back -- but to detect, betray,
And punish. Go and tell him to begin
Anew -- and point him to salvation's way,
The sermon on the mount to us poor sons of clay.
Touch not their gold, but touch-- Thou canst--their heart,
For there be many, who, with open purse,
Will greet thee in that market-place, their mart
Of cold hypocrisy, or something worse:
Unkind and selfish -- theirs may be the curse
"Thy money perish with thee." Learn thou them,
Sweet Charity! their kindness to disburse--
And Self's deep deadly current strong to stem;
A sigh shall win a pearl -- a tear a diadem.
How blessed are thy feet. Thy footsteps stray
From open paths, and seek a grass-grown track
Through shades impervious to the gaze of day;
Onward flies light, a form that turns not back
At sight of chasm, or torrent never slack;
Quiet and bold, and sure the errand speeds,
Nor doth the kindly deed a blessing lack--
To sorrow, joy-- to anguish, peace succeeds,
The eye no longer weeps, the heart no longer bleeds.

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