Speak gently! it is better far
To rule by love than fear.
Speak gently—let no harsh words mar
The good we might do here.
Speak gently! Love doth whisper low
The vows that true hearts bind;
And gently friendship's accents flow;
Affection's voice is kind.
Speak gently to the little child;
Its love be sure to gain;
Teach it in accents soft and mild—
It may not long remain.
Speak gently to the young, tor they
Will have enough to bear;
Pass through this life as best they may
'Tis full of anxious care!
Speak gently to the aged one,
Grieve not the care-worn heart,
The sands of life are nearly run,
Let such in peace depart.
Speak gently, kindly, to the poor;
Let no harsh tone be heard;
They have enough they must endure
Without an unkind word!
Speak gently to the erring—know
How frail are all! how vain!
Perchance unkindness made them so,
Oh! win them back again.
Speak gently—He who gave his life
To bend man's stubborn will,
When elements were in fierce strife,
Said to them—" Peace, be still."
Speak gently! 'tis a little thing
Dropped in the heart's deep well;
The good, the joy, which it may bring,
Eternity shall tell.
The poem was parodied by Lewis Carroll with lines like "Speak roughly to your little boy."