The Stuff of Virtue
How easy to say the pious things;
to stand before the crowd
and let the platitudes fall
like white, waxen pearls among the listeners.
How easy to command respect
with verses from the sainted scholars
to whom virtue must have come simply,
as we repeat their wisdom as cliche.
behind the closet door,
with no audience to applaud,
those pious words echo hollow,
those scholars are stone busts again.
And all we have to cut the shame
is whatever virtue we retain.