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Poem by Menella Bute Smedley


A Character


So noble that he cannot see
He stands in aught above the rest,
But does his greatness easily,
And mounts his scaffold with a jest;
Not vaunting any daily death,
Because he scorns the thing that dies,
And not in love with any breath
That might proclaim him grand or wise.
Not much concerned with schemes that show
The counterchange of weak with strong,
But never passing by a woe,
Nor sitting still to watch a wrong.
Of all hearts careful save his own;
Most tender when he suffers most;
Wont, if a foe must be o'erthrown,
To count, but never grudge the cost.
Sharp insight, severing with a glance
Greater from less, from substance shade;
Faith, in gross darkness of mischance
Unable to be much afraid;
Out-looking eyes that seek and scan,
Ready to love what they behold;
Quick reverence for his brother-man;
Quick sense where gilding is not gold.
Such impulse in his self-control,
It seems a voluntary grace,
The careless grandeur of a soul
That holds no mirror to its face.
True sympathy, a light that grows
And broadens like the summer morn's;
A hope that trusts before it knows,
Being out of tune with all the scorns.
On-moving, temperately intent
On radiant ends by means as bright,
And never cautious, but content
With all the bitter fruits of right.
Under this shade the tired may lie,
Worn with the greatness of their way;
Under this shield the brave may die,
Aware that they have won the day.
For such a leader lifts his times
Out of the limits of the night,
And, falling grandly, while he climbs,
Falls with his face toward the height.



Menella Bute Smedley


Menella Bute Smedley's other poems:
  1. The King's Beard
  2. To Foxes
  3. Three Voices
  4. One and Another
  5. The Wives of Brixham


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Mary Montagu A Character ("Though a strong vanity may you persuade")
  • Robert Anderson A Character ("Near Lagan's banks, a mile from town")
  • Robert Service A Character ("How often do I wish I were")
  • Paul Hayne A Character ("YES, madame, I know you better, far better than those can know")

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