If you are tempted to reveal
A tale some one to you has told
About another, make it pass,
Before you speak, three gates of gold.
Three narrow gates — first, “Is it true?”
Then, “Is it needful?” In your mind
Give truthful answer, and the next,
If last and narrowest, “Is it kind?”
And if to reach your lips at last
It passes through these gateways three,
Then you may tell the tale, nor fear
What the result of speech may be.
Notes by Andrew Guild:
This poem, which has been published under various titles, has been attributed to Chauncy Hare Townshend (1798-1868), from England, although I have not yet confirmed that attribution.
Bassett’s Scrap Book has attributed it to Bettie Day.