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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes

On a Group of Justice and Charity

WHAT do the scales of Justice hold,
Poised even in that steady hand?--
What is that measure closely scanned?
Is one side weighted down with gold?
Or is she clamorous for her right?
Surely for that she bides too still!
Rather, it seems to me, her sight
Is cognisant of good and ill.
With level brows this Justice stands
And weighs her duties one by one;--
And if she pleads, or if commands,
It is lest these be left undone,

Or slurred through weakness and constraint;--
This noble Justice was not bred
In hearts defiled with any taint
Of selfish seeking, dark and dead.
Give, if you will, another name
To those fine scales so nicely hung,
And call her Conscience, and proclaim
Her sovereign right with every tongue--
But, because she is mortal, trust
Her not alone, lest, too severe,
She take account with diamond dust
Of baser metal; her beside
Let loving Charity abide,
With her young children gathered near.

Bessie Rayner Parkes

Bessie Rayner Parkes's other poems:
  1. Rome
  2. Firelight
  3. Up the River
  4. The Old Chateau
  5. King Arthur

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