Men talk too much of gold and fame,
And not enough about a name;
And yet a good name’s better far
Than all earth’s glistening jewels are.
Who holds his name above all price
And chooses every sacrifice
To keep his earthly record clear,
Can face the world without a fear.
Who never cheats nor lies for gain,
A poor man may, perhaps, remain,
Yet, when at night he goes to rest,
No little voice within his breast
Disturbs his slumber. Conscience clear,
He falls asleep with naught to fear
And when he wakes the world to face
He is not tainted by disgrace.
Who keeps his name without a stain
Wears no man’s brand and no man’s chain;
He need not fear to speak his mind
In dread of what the world may find.
He then is master of his will;
None may command him to be still,
Nor force him, when he would stand fast,
To flinch before his hidden past.
Not all the gold that men may claim
Can cover up a deed of shame;
Not all the fame of victory sweet
Can free the man who played the cheat;
He lives a slave unto the last
Unto the shame that mars his past.
He only freedom here may own
Whose name a stain has never known.