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With conscience keen from exercise,
And chronic fear of compromise,
You check the free play of your rhymes, to clap
A moral underneath, and spring it like a trap. “
The sweet voice answered: “Better so
Than bolder flights that know no check;
Better to use the bit, than throw
The reins all loose on fancy's neck.
The liberal range of Art should be
The breadth of Christian liberty,
Restrained alone by challenge and alarm
Where its charmed footsteps tread the border land of harm.
Beyond the poet's sweet dream lives
The eternal epic of the man.
He wisest is who only gives,
True to himself, the best he can;
Who, drifting in the winds of praise,
The inward monitor obeys;
And, with the boldness that confesses fear,
Takes in the crowded sail, and lets his conscience steer.
Thanks for the fitting word he speaks,
Nor less for doubtful word unspoken;
For the false model that he breaks,
As for the moulded grace unbroken;
For what is missed and what remains,
For losses which are truest gains,
For reverence conscious of the Eternal eye,
And truth too fair to need the garnish of a lie. “
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