The Nobly Born

Who counts himself as nobly born
Is noble in despite of place,
And honors are but brands to one
Who wears them not with nature’s grace.

The prince may sit with clown or churl,
Nor feel himself disgraced thereby;
But he who has but small esteem
Husbands that little carefully.

Then, be thou peasant, be thou peer,
Count it still more thou art thine own;
Stand on a larger heraldry
Than that of nation or of zone.

What though not bid to knightly halls?
Those halls have missed a courtly guest;
That mansion is not privileged,
Which is not open to the best.

Give honor due when custom asks,
Nor wrangle for this lesser claim;
It is not to be destitute,
To have the thing without the name.

Then dost thou come of gentle blood,
Disgrace not thy good company;
If lowly born, so bear thyself
That gentle blood may come of thee.

Strive not with pain to scale the height
Of some fair garden’s petty wall,
But climb the open mountain side,
Whose summit rises over all.