Try to be brave— but not too brave, or swift,
Learn from the birch and bow before the blast,
The oaks are proud until the storm is passed,
Their stately limbs half-shattered and adrift.
Try to be true— but know that truth is masked,
And each man’s truth is his, and his alone;
A friend may be more true than flesh and bone,
Yet hesitate to render truth, unasked.
Try to be kind— but keep yourself from those
Whom you judge fools, or charlatans, or mad.
Nor should you play the part of Galahad
Unless you seek your recompense in blows.
Try to be wise— but hide your wisdom well:
The world reveres a pearl, but not the the shell.