Do not despair of man, and do not scold him,   
Who are you that you should so lightly hold him?   
Are you not also a man, and in your heart
Are there not warlike thoughts and fear and smart?   
Are you not also afraid and in fear cruel,
Do you not think of yourself as usual,
Faint for ambition, desire to be loved,
Prick at a virtuous thought by beauty moved?   
You love your wife, you hold your children dear,   
Then say not that Man is vile, but say they are.   
But they are not. So is your judgement shown   
Presumptuous, false, quite vain, merely your own   
Sadness for failed ambition set outside,
Made a philosophy of, prinked, beautified   
In noble dress and into the world sent out
To run with the ill it most pretends to rout.
Oh know your own heart, that heart's not wholly evil,   
And from the particular judge the general,   
If judge you must, but with compassion see life,   
Or else, of yourself despairing, flee strife.

  • Stevie Smith, “Do Not!” from New Selected Poems. Copyright © 1972 by Stevie Smith. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

  • Source: The New Selected Poems of Stevie Smith (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1988)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I learned that I had the ability to capture the attention of an audience and evoke emotion from them. When I recited my first poem in 9th grade for a mock POL class competition, I was incredibly shy and barely audible. But eventually I grew to love sharing the emotions poems gave me."
Chiara Raimondo
2016 NY POL Champion