Sonnet 30

What can a poor man do but love and pray?
But if his love be selfish, then his prayer,
Like noisome vapour melts in vacant air.
I am a debtor, and I cannot pay.
The alms which drop upon the public way, —
The casual tribute of the good and fair,
With the keen, thriftless avarice of despair
I seize, and live thereon from day to day,
Ingrate and purposeless. — And yet not so:
The mere mendicity of self contempt
Has not so far debased me, but I know
The faith, the hope, the piety, exempt
From worldly doubt, to which my all I owe.
Since I have nothing, yet I bless the thought, —
Best are they paid whose earthly wage is nought.
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