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Alice Cary

Alice Carey lived from 1820 to 1871. Born on a farm and educated by her mother, Alice and her sister Phoebe gained a national reputation, drawing attention from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Horace Greeley and John Greenleaf Whittier. In her poem Nobility, Alice reminds us of what constitutes true worth.

        True worth is in being, not seeming,
        In doing, each day that goes by,
        Some little good--not in dreaming
        Of great things to do by and by.
        For whatever men say in their blindness,
        And spite of the fancies of youth,
        There's nothing so kingly as kindness,
        And nothing so royal as truth.

        We get back our mete as we measure--
        We cannot do wrong and feel right,
        Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
        For justice avenges each slight.
        The air for the wing of the sparrow,
        The bush for the robin and wren,
        But always the path that is narrow
        And straight, for the children of men.

        'Tis not in the pages of story
        The heart of its ills to beguile,
        Though he who makes courtship to glory
        Gives all that he hath for her smile.
        For when from her heights he has won her,
        Alas! it is only to prove
        That nothing's so sacred as honor,
        And nothing so loyal as love!

        We cannot make bargains for blisses,
        Nor catch them like fishes in nets,
        And sometimes the thing our life misses
        Helps more than the thing which it gets.
        For good lieth not in pursuing,
        Nor gaining of great nor of small,
        But just in the doing, and doing
        As we would be done by, is all.

        Through envy, through malice, through hating,
        Against the world, early and late,
        No jot or our courage abating--
        Our part is to work and to wait.
        And slight is the sting of his trouble
        Whose winnings are less than his worth;
        For he who is honest is noble,
        Whatever his fortunes or birth.

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