"Be Good, Sweet Maid, And Let Who Can Be Clever"

Context: Charles Kingsley, an English clergyman who wrote novels and poetry emphasizing social justice and individual virtue and strength, expresses in this short poem to a young girl the idea that "virtue is its own reward." The poet's mood is a somber one as he apparently looks upon the pains and distresses of a sinful world: "My fairest child, I have no song to give you;/ No lark could pipe in skies so dull and gray;/ Yet, if you will, one quiet hint I'll leave you,/ For every day." The "hint" he offers her is to meet the world with goodness and honesty, rather than to try to outwit it. In virtue is the truest happiness:

Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever;
Do lovely things, not dream them, all day long;
And so make Life, and Death, and that For Ever,
One grand sweet song.