I memorized the first verse of this poem while driving to work one day last year. I think of it often, especially when my son is crying! Ella Wheeler Wilcox, author of Worth While and one of my favorite poets, was a brilliant writer and poet. Enjoy!
It is easy enough to be pleasant
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is the one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years,
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through tears.
It is easy enough to be prudent
When nothing tempts you to stray,
When without or within no voice of sin
Is luring your soul away;
But it’s only a negative virtue
Until it is tried by fire,
And the life that is worth the honour on earth
Is the one that resists desire.
By the cynic, the sad, the fallen,
Who had no strength for the strife,
The world’s highway is cumbered to-day—
They make up the sum of life;
But the virtue that conquers passion,
And the sorrow that hides in a smile—
It is these that are worth the homage on earth,
For we find them but once in a while.
[picture of Ella Wheeler Wilcox]