Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Poems.
III. A Character
By Menella Bute Smedley (1820–1877)
 
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,        5
  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,        10
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,        15
  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;        20
 
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 of his self-control,        25
  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;        30
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        35
  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.        40
 
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.
 
 
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