Do not offend in words, my friend
For words defile the soul;
A righteous man has full command
Of tongue and body whole.
Behold a ship in fierce winds’ grip,
Which drives it through the seas;
Though long in keel, a little wheel
Can steer its course with ease.
The tongue’s a flame that none can tame
Nor master very well;
This thing so small defiles us all
And steers our course to Hell.
With it we praise God’s gracious ways,
And curse humanity;
Yes, with the same we bless and shame—
These things ought not to be;
It is not meet for fountains sweet
To spew forth bitter too;
No tree of fig, upon its twig,
An olive ever grew
To flee the fire, the wise desire
God’s wisdom from above,
For when they speak, they always seek
To speak the truth in love.
1970 J. G. Braddock Sr.

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