A beggar in the street I saw,
Who held a hand like withered claw,
As cold as clay;
But as I had no silver groat
To give, I buttoned up my coat
And turned away.
And then I watched a working wife
Who bore the bitter load of life
With lagging limb;
A penny from her purse she took,
And with sweet pity in her look
Gave it to him.
Anon I spied a shabby dame
Who fed six sparrows as they came
In famished flight;
She was so poor and frail and old,
Yet crumbs of her last crust she doled
With pure delight.
Then sudden in my heart was born
For my sleek self a savage scorn,--
Urge to atone;
So when a starving cur I saw
I bandaged up its bleeding paw
And bought a bone.
For God knows it is good to give;
We may not have so long to live,
So if we can,
Let's do each day a kindly deed,
And stretch a hand to those in need,
Bird, beast or man.
Robert William Service
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