Be Kind When You Can

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Be kind when you can, though the kindness be little,
'Tis small letters make up philosophers' scrolls;
The crystal of Happiness, vivid and brittle,
Can seldom be cut into very large bowls.

'Tis atoms that dwell in the measureless mountain,
'Tis moments that sum up the century's flight;
'Tis but drops that unite in Niagara's fountain,
'Tis rays, single rays, from the harvest-sun light.

Stone by stone builds the temple that rises in glory,
Inch by inch grows the child till maturity's prime;
The jewels so famous in bright, Eastern story
Have been nursed, tint by tint, in the blossom of Time.

'Tis grains make the desert-sheet, trackless and spreading;
'Tis but petals that deck every blossom-twinned spray;
There are leaves - only leaves - where the forest is shedding
Its gloom till the density shuts out the day.

A word or a glance which we give "without thinking",
May shadow or lighten some sensitive breast;
And the draught from the well-spring is wine in the drinking,
If quaffed from the brim that Affection has blest.

Then be kind when you can in the smallest of duties,
Don't wait for the larger expressions of Love;
For the heart depends less for its joys and its beauties
On the flight of the Eagle than coo of the Dove.

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.