by Jonathan Swift  /  poetry  /  31 Oct 2007
Ye wise, instruct me to endure
An evil, which admits no cure;
Or, how this evil can be borne,
Which breeds at once both hate and scorn.
Bare innocence is no support,
When you are tried in Scandal's court.
Stand high in honour, wealth, or wit;
All others, who inferior sit,
Conceive themselves in conscience bound
To join, and drag you to the ground.
Your altitude offends the eyes
Of those who want the power to rise.
The world, a willing stander-by,
Inclines to aid a specious lie:
Alas! they would not do you wrong;
But all appearances are strong.
Yet whence proceeds this weight we lay
On what detracting people say!
For let mankind discharge their tongues
In venom, till they burst their lungs,
Their utmost malice cannot make
Your head, or tooth, or finger ache;
Nor spoil your shape, distort your face,
Or put one feature out of place;
Nor will you find your fortune sink
By what they speak or what they think;
Nor can ten hundred thousand lies
Make you less virtuous, learn'd, or wise.
The most effectual way to balk
Their malice, is--to let them talk.
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