Guest poem sent in by Seema Ramanarayanan The title has been given by one of my old English textbooks. Guess that's not the title used anyplace else since I had a hard time finding the poem on the web. It's basically Polonius' advice to his son Laertes in "Hamlet". [It seemed to me more appropriate than our usual convention of using the first line of the excerpt as the title, so I retained it - martin]
(Poem #1204) To Thine Own Self Be True
Yet here, Laertes! Aboard, aboard for shame! The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail, And you are stay'd for. There ... my blessing with thee! And these few precepts in thy memory Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportion'd thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel; But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatch'd, unfledgd comrade. Beware Of entrance to a quarrel but, being in, Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee. Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgement. Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy; For the apparel oft proclaims the man; And they in France of the best rank and station Are of a most select and generous chief in that. Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!
Well, not sure I think it's the best advice anyone ever got but when I reread the poem all these years later, I realised its a whole list of platitudes :). Still sounds like mighty grand advice, doesnt it? p.s. I dont think I need to add any biographical information for this one! Seema [Martin adds] The phrases "to thine own self be true" and "neither a borrower nor a lender be" have (deservedly) made their way into the language. Another famous set of precepts cast into poetic form is Kipling's "If", Poem #271 And in a more humorous vein, Gilbert's "Things are seldom what they seem" duet from "HMS Pinafore" is a magnificent send up of the genre, including the immortal line Though I'm anything but clever I could talk like that forever -- [broken link] http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/pinafore/web_opera/pn14.html martin