The Poor and the Rich by James Russell Lowell

The rich man's son inherits lands,
And piles of brick and stone and gold,
And tender flesh that fears the cold,
Nor dares to wear a garment old;
A heritage, it seems to me,
One would not care to hold in fee.
The rich man's son inherits cares.
The bank may break, the factory burn,
Some breath may burst his bubble shares,
And soft white hands would scarcely earn
A living that would suit his turn;
A heritage, it seems to me,
One would not care to hold in fee.
What does the poor man's son inherit?
Stout muscles and a sinewy heart,
A hardy frame, a hardier spirit,
King of two hands he does his part
In every useful toil and art;
A heritage, it seems to me,
A king might wish to hold in fee.
What does the poor man's son inherit?
Wishes o'erjoyed with humble things,
A rank adjudged by toil-worn merit,
Content that from enjoyment springs,
A heart that in his labour sings;
A heritage, it seems to me,
A king might wish to hold in fee.
What does the poor man's son inherit?
A patience learned by being poor,
Courage, if sorrow come, to bear it;
A fellow feeling that is sure
To make the outcast bless his door;
A heritage, it seems to me,
A king might wish to hold in fee.
Oh! rich man's son, there is a toil
That with all others level stands;
Large charity doth never soil,
But only whitens, soft white hands;
This is the best crop from thy lands;
A heritage, it seems to me,
Worth being rich to hold in fee.
Oh! poor man's son, scorn not thy state,
There is worse weariness than thine—
In being merely rich and great;
Work only makes the soul to shine,
And makes rest fragrant and benign
A heritage, it seems to me,
Worth being poor to hold in fee.
Both, heirs to some six feet of sod,
Are equal in the earth at last—
Both, children of the same dear God.
Prove title to your heirship vast,
By record of a well-filled past!
A heritage, it seems to me,
Well worth a life to hold in fee.