The Finer Thought

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Edgar Guest

How fine it is at night to say: 
I have not wronged a soul today. 
I have not by a word or deed, 
In any breast sowed anger's seed,

Or caused a fellow being pain; 
Nor is there on my crest a stain 
That shame has left. In honor's way, 
With head erect, I've lived this day.

When night slips down and day departs 
And rest returns to weary hearts, 
How fine it is to close the book 
Of records for the day, and look

Once more along the traveled mile 
And find that all has been worth while; 
To say: In honor I have toiled; 
My plume is spotless and unsoiled.

Yet cold and stern a man may be 
Retaining his integrity; 
And he may pass from day to day 
A spirit dead, in living clay,

Observing strictly morals, laws, 
Yet serving but a selfish cause; 
So it is not enough to say: 
I have not stooped to shame today!

It is a finer, nobler thought 
When day is done and night has brought 
The contemplative hours and sweet, 
And rest to weary hearts and feet,

If man can stand in truth and say: 
I have been useful here today. 
Back there is one I chanced to see 
With hope newborn because of me.

This day in honor I have toiled; 
My shining crest is still unsoiled; 
But on the mile I leave behind 
Is one who says that I was kind;

And someone hums a cheerful song 
Because I chanced to come along. 
Sweet rest at night that man shall own 
Who has not lived his day alone.