Better to smell the violet
Than sip the glowing wine;
Better to hearken to a brook
Than watch a diamond shine.
Better to have a loving friend
Than ten admiring foes;
Better a daisy’s earthy root
Than a gorgeous, dying rose.
Better to love in loneliness
Than bask in love all day;
Better the fountain in the heart
Than the fountain by the way.
Better to be fed by mother’s hand
Than eat alone at will;
Better to trust in God, than say,
My goods my storehouse fill.
Better to be a little wise
Than in knowledge to abound;
Better to teach a child than toil
to fill perfection’s round.
Better to sit at some man’s feet
Than thrill a listening state;
Better suspect that thou art proud
Than to be sure that thou art great.
Better to walk the realm unseen
Than watch the hour’s event;
Better the Well done, faithful slave!
Than the air with shoutings rent.
Better to have a quiet grief
Than many turbulent joys;
Better to miss thy manhood’s aim
Than sacrifice the boy’s.
Better a death when work is done
Than earth’s most favoured birth;
Better a child in God’s great house
Than the king of all the earth.
George MacDonald, Discovering the Character of God (compiled by Michael Phillips), Mineeapolis, Bethany House, 1989, 192.