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Trifles pursued, whate'er the event,.
Must cause him shame or discontent;
A vicious object still is worse,
Successful there he wins a curse.
But he, whom e’en in life's last stage
Endeavours laudable engage,
Is paid, at least, in peace of mind,
And sense of having well design'd;
And if, ere he attain his end,
His sun precipitate descend,
A brighter prize than that he meant
Shall recompense his mere intent.
No virtuous wish can bear a date
Either too early or too late.
A FABLE. A RAVEN, while with glossy breast Her new-laid eggs she fondly press'd, And, on her wickerwork high mounted, Her chickens prematurely counted (A fault philosophers might blame If quite exempted from the same), Enjoy'd at ease the genial day; 'Twas April as the bumpkins say, The legislature call'd it May. But suddenly a wind, as high As ever swept a winter sky, Shook the young leaves about her ears, And fill’d her with a thousand fears, Lest the rude blast should snap the bough, And spread her golden hopes below. ..
But just at eve the blowing weather
And all her fears were hush'd together:
And now, quoth poor unthinking Ralph,
'Tis over, and the brood is safe
(For ravens, though as birds of omen
They teach both conjurers and old women,
To tell us what is to befall,
Can't prophesy themselves at all).
The morning came, when neighbour Hodge,
Who long had mark'd her airy lodge,
And destined all the treasure there
A gift to his expecting fair,
Climb'd like a squirrel to his dray,
And bore the worthless prize away.
'Tis Providence alone secures
In every change both mine and yours:
Safety consists not in escape
From dangers of a frightful shape;
An earthquake may be bid to spare
The man that's strangled by a hair.
Fate steals along with silent tread,
Found oftenest in what least we dread,
Frowns in the storm with angry brow,
But in the sunshine strikes the blow,
THE PINEAPPLE AND BEE. The pineapples, in triple row, Were basking hot, and all in blow; A bee of most discerning taste Perceived the fragrance as he pass'd.
On eager wing the spoiler came,
And search'd for crannies in the frame,
Urged his attempt on every side,
To every pane his trunk applied ;
But still in vain, the frame was tight,
And only pervious to the light:
Thus having wasted half the day,
He trimm'd his flight another way.
Methinks, I said, in thee I find
The sin and madness of mankind.
To joys forbidden man aspires,
Consumes his soul with vain desires;
Folly the spring of his pursuit,
And disappointment all the fruit.
While Cynthio ogles, as she passes,
The nymph between two chariot glasses,
She is the pineapple, and he
The silly unsuccessful bee.
The maid, who views with pensive air
The show-glass fraught with glittering ware,
Sees watches, bracelets, rings, and lockets,
But sighs at thought of empty pockets ;
Like thine, her appetite is keen,
But ah, the cruel glass between!
Our dear delights are often such, Exposed to view, but not to touch: The sight our foolish heart inflames, We long for pineapples in frames; With hopeless wish one looks and lingers ; One breaks the glass and cuts his fingers; But they whom truth and wisdom lead, Can gather honey from a weed.
THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND SENSITIVE
An Oyster, cast upon the shore,
Was heard, though never heard before,
Complaining in a speech well worded,
And worthy thus to be recorded -
Ah, hapless wretch! condemn’d to dwell
For ever in my native shell;
Ordain'd to move when others please,
Not for my own content or ease;
But toss'd and buffeted about,
Now in the water and now out.
'Twere better to be born a stone,
Of ruder shape, and feeling none,
Than with a tenderness like mine,
And sensibilities so fine!
I envy that unfeeling shrub,
Fast rooted against every rub.
The plant he meant grew not far off,
And felt the sneer with scorn enough;
Was hurt, disgusted, mortified,
And with asperity replied.
When, cry the botanists, and stare,
Did plants callid sensitive grow there?
No matter when-a poet's muse is
To make them grow just where she chooses.
You shapeless nothing in a dish,
You that are but almost a fish,
I scorn your coarse insinuation,
And have most plentiful occasion
POET, OYSTER, AND SENSITIVE PLANT. 221
To wish myself the rock I view,
Or such another dolt as you :
For many a grave and learned clerk,
And many a gay unletter'd spark,
With curious touch examines me,
If I can feel as well as he;
And when I bend, retire, and shrink,
Says-Well, 'tis more than one would think!
Thus life is spent (oh, fie upon't!)
In being touch’d, and crying-Don't!
A poet, in his evening walk,
O'erheard and check'd this idle talk.
And your fine sense, he said, and yours,
Whatever evil it endures,
Deserves not, if so soon offended,
Much to be pitied or commended.
Disputes, though short, are far too long,
Where both alike are in the wrong ;
Your feelings, in their full amount,
Are all upon your own account.
You, in your grotto-work enclosed,
Complain of being thus exposed ;
Yet nothing feel in that rough coat,
Save when the knife is at your throat,
Wherever driven by wind or tide,
Exempt from every ill beside.'
And as for you, my Lady Squeamish,
Who reckon every touch a blemish,
If all the plants that can be found
Embellishing the scene around
Should droop and wither where they grow,
You would not feel at all--not you.
The noblest minds their virtue prove
By pity, sympathy, and love;