O why your good deeds with such pride do you scan,
And why that self-satisfied smile
At the shilling you gave to the poor working man,
That lifted you over the stile?
'Tis not much; all the bread that can with it be bought,
Will scarce give a morsel to each
Of his eight hungry children;-reflection and thought
Should you more humility teach.
Vainglory's a worm which the very best action
Will taint, and its soundness eat through;
But to give one's self airs for a small benefaction,
Is folly and vanity too.
The money perhaps by your father or mother
Was furnished you but with that view;
If so, you were only the steward of another,
And the praise you usurp is their due.
Perhaps every shilling you give in this way
Is paid back with two by your friends;
Then the bounty you so ostentatious display,
Has little and low selfish ends.
But if every penny you gave were your own,
And giving diminished your purse;
By a child's slender means think how little is done,
And how little for it you're the worse.
You eat, and you drink; when you rise in the morn,
You are clothed; you have health and content;
And you never have known, from the day you were born,
What hunger or nakedness meant.
The most which your bounty from you can subtract
Is an apple, a sweetmeat, a toy;
For so easy a virtue, so trifling an act,
You are paid with an innocent joy.
Give thy bread to the hungry, the thirsty thy cup;
Divide with the afflicted thy lot:
This can only be practised by persons grown up,
Who've possessions which children have not.
Having two cloaks, give one (said our Lord) to the poor;
In such bounty as that lies the trial:
But a child that gives half of its infantile store
Has small praise, because small self-denial.
Charles Lamb's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Charity by Charles Lamb )
- hey four eyes with the square tie, Jena Crowe
- Where there respect thus there Star Bucks., Raymond Sawyer
- 84 and couldn't speak English, Cyndi K. Gacosta
- Frost Chills, Cathy Hodgson
- What A Wondrous Thing, Joshua Chuhran
- Falling Doves, Joshua Chuhran
- The Simple Life, Nate Morris
- To touch a star is to be touch by the st.., Raymond Sawyer
- A Prayer For Self Identity, Maurice Harris
- throwing sticks at the stars, Mandolyn ...
Poem of the Day
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Bored, Margaret Atwood
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Being With You, Heather Burns
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
- Heather Burns
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)