Are we half aware of their mighty powers?

Do we ever trouble our heads at all

Where the jest may strike or the hint may fall?

The latest chirp of that "little bird,"

That spicy story "you must have heard"—

We jerk them away in our gossip rash,

And somebody's glass, of course, goes smash.

What fames have been blasted and broken,

What pestilent sinks been stirred,

By a word in lightness spoken,

By only an idle word!

A sneer—a shrug—a whisper low—

They are poisoned shafts from an ambushed bow!

Shot by the coward, the fool, the knave,

They pierce the mail of the great and brave;

Vain is the buckler of wisdom or pride

To turn the pitiless point aside;

The lip may curl with a careless smile,

But the heart drips blood—drip's blood the while.

Ah me! What hearts have been broken,

What rivers of blood been stirred,

By a word in malice spoken,

By only a bitter word.

A kindly word and a tender tone —

To only God is their virtue known!

They can lift from the dust the abject head,

They can turn a foe to a friend instead;

The heart close-burred with passion and pride

Will fling at their knock its portal wide,

And the hate that blights and the scorn that sears

Will melt in the fountain of childlike tears.

What ice-bound griefs have been broken,

What rivers of love been stirred,

By a word in kindness spoken,

By only a gentle word!



Sunday Magazine