'Tis well with words, oh masters, ye have sought,
To turn men's eyes yearning to the great and true,
Yet first take heed to what your own hands do;
By deeds not words the souls of men are taught;
Good lives alone are fruitful; they are caught
Into the fountain of all life (wherethrough
Men's souls that drink are broken or made new)
Like drops of heavenly elixir, fraught
With the clear essence of eternal youth.
Even one little deed of weak untruth
Is like a drop of quenchless venom cast,
A liquid thread, into life's feeding stream,
Woven forever with its crystal gleam,
Bearing the seed of death and woe at last.