The Seven Virtues [poem]

My poem below briefly characterizes four Classical virtues followed by the three cardinal Christian ones. An “8th virtue,” Courtesy, which might be called Good Manners as Good Morals ritualized, is sometimes added to this list.  I would hope that we might all resolve to live by these virtues and try to avoid the matching Seven Deadly Sins as defined by medieval Christian theology. Neither the Virtues nor the Sins can long be ignored without serious consequences, however we may try to convince ourselves that we live in a post-modern world of “whatever” or “anything goes.”


The Seven Virtues:


Three thousand years have left us this

Précis of health and sober bliss:

Temperance, the broad firm base,

The drink refused with quiet grace;

Prudence, rich at folly’s expense,

The interest of common sense;

Justice, blind in the balanced scales,

The weak man freed from strong men’s jails;

Fortitude, outfacing dread,

The great poem done as the cancer spread.

Such natural virtues well defined

By Greece and Rome, the classic mind,

Prepare us for the higher three,

Faith, Hope, and Love called Charity:

Faith, the flower of reason’s seed,

Rooted deep in fear and need;

Hope, the craving of the soul

That cannot think itself the whole;

Love, by which we know the One

Who loves us as He loves His Son;

And, to these antidotes to vice,

Gentlefolk will add the spice

Of Courtesy to sweeten up

The virtues’ sometimes bitter cup

As John once stood apart, yet near,

In honor of the Virgin’s tears.

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