« PreviousContinue »
The Poet, the Oyster, and the Sensitive Plant. 5
THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND THE
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 ! condemned to dwell
For ever in my native shell ;
Ordained to move when others please,
Not for my own content or ease;
But tossed 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 called 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
To wish myself the rock I view,
Or such another dolt as you;
For many a grave and learned clerk,
And many a gay unlettered 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 touched, and crying—Don't !"
A poet, in his evening walk,
O’erheard and checked 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 :
These, these are feelings truly fine,
And prove their owner half divine.”
His censure reached them as he dealt it, And each, by shrinking, showed he felt it.
THE NIGHTINGALE AND GLOW-WORM.
A Nightingale, that all day long
Had cheered the village with his song,
Nor yet at eve his note suspended,
Nor yet when eventide was ended,
Began to feel, as well he might,
The keen demands of appetite;
When, looking eagerly around,
He spied far off, upon the ground,
A something shining in the dark,
And knew the glow-worm by his spark ;
So, stooping down from hawthorn top,
He thought to put him in his crop.
The worm, aware of his intent,
Harangued him thus, right eloquent-
“ Did you admire my lamp," quoth he,
“ As much as I your minstrelsy,
You would abhor to do me wrong,
As much as I to spoil your song ;
For 'twas the self-same power divine
Taught you to sing, and me to shine ;
That you with music, I with light,
Might beautify and cheer the night."
The songster heard his short oration,
And warbling out his approbation,
Released him, as my story tells,
And found a supper somewhere else.
Hence jarring sectaries may learn
Their real interest to discern;
That brother should not war with brother,
And worry and devour each other ;
But sing and shine by sweet consent,
Till life's poor transient night is spent,
Respecting in each other's case,
The gifts of nature and of grace.
Those Christians best deserve the name, Who studiously make peace their aim ; Peace both the duty and the prize Of him that creeps and him that flies.
ON A GOLDFINCH STARVED TO DEATH
Time was when I was free as air,
The thistle's downy seed my fare,
My drink the morning dew;
I perched at will on every spray,
My form genteel, my plumage gay,
My strains for ever new.
But gaudy plumage, sprightly strain,
And form genteel, were all in vain,
And of a transient date;
For caught and caged, and starved to death,
In dying sighs my little breath
Soon passed the wiry grate.
Thanks, gentle swain, for all my woes,
And thanks for this effectual close,
And cure of every ill !
More cruelty could none express;
And I, if you had shown me less,
Had been your prisoner still.