Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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"SAY, WHAT IS HONOUR?--'TIS THE FINEST SENSE"

          SAY, what is Honour?--'Tis the finest sense
          Of 'justice' which the human mind can frame,
          Intent each lurking frailty to disclaim,
          And guard the way of life from all offence
          Suffered or done. When lawless violence
          Invades a Realm, so pressed that in the scale
          Of perilous war her weightiest armies fail,
          Honour is hopeful elevation,--whence
          Glory, and triumph. Yet with politic skill
          Endangered States may yield to terms unjust;                10
          Stoop their proud heads, but not unto the dust--
          A Foe's most favourite purpose to fulfil:
          Happy occasions oft by self-mistrust
          Are forfeited; but infamy doth kill.
                                                              1809.


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