There is not, they say, a dumb thing but can teach
A lesson as wisely as if it had speech;
So I'll sing you, my masters, a song, you that choose,
Of what you may learn from the woods that we use.
Let your courage be stout when the Truth you defend;
Let its enemy break you before he can bend;
Stand firm to his bluster, stand fair to his stroke;
If he is the tempest, then you be the Oak!
You may conquer your foe,--when the quarrel's for pelf,--
If you strive;--if you yield, you will conquer yourself:
Let them talk about spirit and pride as they please;
You copy the Willow that bends to the breeze!
Keep make-bates at distance, drive tell-tales away,
And banish the whisperer as far as you may;
Take your pattern from Chesnut, that, framed in a roof,
Drives worms from the place, and keeps spiders aloof!
Give aid to your neighbours, when aid they desire;
Ask help from your neighbours, when help you require:
Give and take, take and give, throw away mine and thine,
And each shelter each, like a forest of Pine!
Never say, when you're asked to take business in hand,
It is not my place, or, I don't understand:
If you're good but for one thing, your worth is but small;
Come, try to be useful, as Box is, for all!
There are many who stick by a prosperous friend,
But forsake him the moment his wealth's at an end:
Be you like the Ivy, that clings to the wall,
And clasps it the closer, the liker to fall.
Never answer, lest surly and harsh you appear,
A sigh with a smile, nor a laugh with a tear;
But copy the Ash, o'er the river-side bent,
That itself seems to weep to the water's lament.
Be as thankful, and just, and as honestly deal
In the winter of woe, as the summer of weal:
And yield better fruit, by the works that you do,
If you hope to be evermore green, like the Yew!