Martin Farquhar Tupper

(July 17, 1810 - November 1889 / London)

Forgive And Forget

When streams of unkindness, as bitter as gall,
Bubble up from the heart to the tongue,
And Meekness is writhing in torment and thrall,
By the hands of Ingratitude wrung,-
In the heat of injustice, unwept and unfair,
While the anguish is festering yet,
None, none but an angel or God can declare
'I now can forgive and forget.'

But, if the bad spirit is chased from the heart,
And the lips are in penitence steep'd,
With the wrong so repented the wrath will depart,
Though scorn or injustice were heap'd;
For the best compensation is paid for all ill,
When the cheek with contrition is wet,
And every one feels it is possible still
At once to forgive and forget.

To forget? It is hard for a man with a mind,
However his heart may forgive,
To blot out all insults and evils behind,
And but for the future to life:
Then how shall it be? for at every turn
Recollection the spirit will fret,
And the ashes of injury smoulder and burn,
Though we strive to forgive and forget.

Oh, hearken! my tongue shall the riddle unseal,
And mind shall be partner with heart,
While thee to thyself I bid conscience reveal,
And show thee how evil thou art:
Remember thy follies, thy sins, and - thy crimes,
How vast is that infinite debt!
Yet Mercy hath seven by seventy times
Been swift to forgive and forget!

Brood not on insults or injuries old,
For thou art injurious too,-
Count not their sum till the total is told,
For thou art unkind and untrue:
And if all thy harms are forgotten, forgiven,
Now mercy with justice is met,
Oh, who would not gladly take lessons of heaven,
Nor learn to forgive and forget?

Yes, yes; let a man, when his enemy weeps,
Be quick to receive him a friend;
For thus on his head in kindness he heaps
Hot coals,- to refine and amend;
And hearts that are Christian more eagerly yearn,
As a nurse on her innocent pet,
Over lips that, once bitter, to penitence turn,
And whisper, Forgive and forget.

Submitted: Thursday, September 23, 2010

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