NOBLESSE OBLIGE

I hold it the duty of one who is gifted
    And specially dowered in all men's sight,
To know no rest till his life is lifted
    Fully up to his great gifts' height.

He must mold the man into rare completeness,
    For gems are set only in gold refined.
He must fashion his thoughts into perfect sweetness,
    And cast out folly and pride from his mind.

For he who drinks from a god's gold fountain
    Of art or music or rhythmic song
Must sift from his soul the chaff of malice,
    And weed from his heart the roots of wrong.

Great gifts should be worn, like a crown befitting!
    And not like gems in a beggar's hands.
And the toil must be constant and unremitting
    Which lifts up the king to the crown's demands.

Poems of Power by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago : W. B. Conkey, 1902.


Back to Poem Index