ONLY a word, do you tell me? Yes;

And it matters so little, as you believe.

Only a word! Yet you cannot guess

The mark on a life a word may leave!

Only a word! Oh, I know it well—

That glib excuse for thoughtless speech!

And yet, remember, you cannot tell

How far or how deep a word may reach.

Only a word! But a word may harm,

And open a wound with its ceaseless smart,

And a word may heal like a magic charm,

If it come direct from a loving heart.

And "only a word," for all we know,

May hinder a sin, or may save a soul;

For the words we utter —they live and grow

Though they pass in a breath beyond control.

'Tis nothing but tiny drops that fill

Yon river that rolls so strong and deep;

And a life's whole teaching, for good or for ill,

Is made of the words we hold so cheap!




I. L. L. Pemberton