Better Things

Better to smell a violet,

Than sip the careless wine;

Better to list one music tone,

Than watch the jewels’ shine.

Better to have the love of one,

Than smiles like morning dew;

Better to have a living seed

Than flowers of every hue.

Better to feel a love within,

Than be lovely to the sight;

Better a homely tenderness

Than beauty’s wild delight.

Better to love than be beloved.

Though lonely all the day;

Better the fountain in the heart,

Than the fountain by the way.

Better a feeble love to God,

Than for woman’s love to pine;

Better to have the making God

Than the woman made divine.

Better be fed by mother’s hand,

Than eat alone at will;

Better to trust in God, than say:

My goods my storehouse fill.

Better to be a little wise

Than learned overmuch;

Better than high are lowly thoughts,

For truthful thoughts are such.

Better than thrill a listening crowd,

Sit at a wise man’s feet;

But better teach a child, than toil

To make thyself complete.

Better to walk the realm unseen,

Than watch the hour’s event;

Better the smile of God alway,

Than the voice of men’s consent.

Better to have a quiet grief

Than a tumultuous joy;

Better than manhood, age’s face,

If the heart be of a boy.

Better the thanks of one dear heart,

Than a nation’s voice of praise;

Better the twilight ere the dawn,

Than yesterday’s mid-blaze.

Better a death when work is done,

Than earth’s most favoured birth;

Better a child in God’s great house

Than the king of all the earth.

–George MacDonald

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