George Wither

11 June 1588 – 2 May 1667 / Bentworth, Hampshire

The Virtuous Man

Thus fears the man whom virtue, beacon-like,
Hath fix'd upon the hills of eminence;
At him the tempests of mad envy strike,
And rage against his piles of innocence;
But still, the more they wrong him, and the more
They seek to keep his worth from being known,
They daily make it greater than before,
And cause his fame the further to be blown.
When, therefore, no self-doting arrogance,
But virtues cover'd with a modest veil,
Break through obscurity, and thee advance
To place where envy shall thy worth assail,
Discourage not thyself, but stand the shocks
Of wrath and fury. Let them snarl and bite,
Pursue thee with detraction, slander, mocks,
And all the venom'd engines of despight.
Thou art above the malice; and the blaze
Of thy celestial fire shall shine so clear,
That their besotted souls thou shalt amaze,
And make thy splendours to their shame appear.
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