Watch Yourself Go By

In honor of April being National Poetry Month, I’ve decided I’m going to be posting some of my favorite poems. I like poetry, and I know there is supposed to be a sense of mystery about it, but I don’t care for the kind that leaves you scratching your head and thinking “what in the world are they talking about?” Most of the poems I like were written many years ago and really have a message to them. You know what the author is trying to say. The following poem speaks clearly of compassion. I hope you enjoy it.

Watch Yourself Go By

By: Strickland Gillilan

Just stand aside and watch yourself go by;
Think of yourself as “he” instead of “I.”
Note, closely as in other men you note
The bag-kneed trousers and the seedy coat.
Pick flaws; find fault; forget the man is you,
And strive to make your estimate ring true.
Confront yourself and look you in the eye-
Just stand aside and watch yourself go by.

Interpret all your motives just as though
You looked on one whose aims you did not know.
Let undisguised contempt surge through you when
You see you shirk, O commonest of men!
Despise your cowardice; condemn whate’er
You note of falseness in you anywhere.
Defend not one defect that shames your eye-
Just stand aside and watch yourself go by.

And then, with eyes unveiled to what you loathe,
To sins that with sweet charity you’d clothe,
Back to your self-walled tenement you’ll go
With tolerance for all who dwell below.
The faults of others then will dwarf and shrink,
Love’s chain grows stronger by one mighty link,
When you, with “he” as substituted for “I,”
Have stood aside and watched yourself go by.

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