John Boyle O'Reilly

(28 June 1844 - 10 August 1890 / Dowth Castle, County Meath)

Unspoken Words - Poem by John Boyle O'Reilly

THE kindly words that rise within the heart,
And thrill it with their sympathetic tone,
But die ere spoken, fail to play their part,
And claim a merit that is not their own.
The kindly word unspoken is a sin,—
A sin that wraps itself in purest guise,
And tells the heart that, doubting, looks within,
That not in speech, but thought, the virtue lies.

But 'tis not so: another heart may thirst
For that kind word, as Hagar in the wild—
Poor banished Hagar!—prayed a well might burst
From out the sand to save her parching child.
And loving eyes that cannot see the mind
Will watch the expected movement of the lip:
Ah! can ye let its cutting silence wind
Around that heart, and scathe it like a whip?

Unspoken words, like treasures in the mine,
Are valueless until we give them birth:
Like unfound gold their hidden beauties shine,
Which God has made to bless and gild the earth.
How sad 'twould be to see a master's hand
Strike glorious notes upon a voiceless lute!
But oh! what pain when, at God's own command,
A heart-string thrills with kindness, but is mute!

Then hide it not, the music of the soul.
Dear sympathy, expressed with kindly voice,
But let it like a shining river roll
To deserts dry,—to hearts that would rejoice.
Oh! let the symphony of kindly words
Sound for the poor, the friendless, and the weak;
And he will bless you,—he who struck these chords
Will strike another when in turn you seek.


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Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 20, 2012



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