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TO THE FRITILLARY:
ON A SABBATH MORN.
On thy bed of clover playing,
Pretty insect, why so gay?
Why so blithely dressed this morning?
'Tis to thee no Sabbath-day. Giddy trifler of an hour,
Days to thee are all the same;
Little care hast thou to count them,
Mindful only of thy game.
And thou dost well—for never sorrow
Sat upon thy golden brow;
And never storm of earthly passion
Gathered in thy breast of snow.
Thou hast not sighed at evening's closing,
For hopes that left thee on its wing;
Thou hast not wept at day's returning,
With thoughts of what that day might bring. Nor ever voice of truth neglected,
Breathed reproaches in thine ear,
Nor secret pang of conscious error,
Spake of retribution near.
Play thy game, thou spotless worm!
Stranger still to care and sorrow;
Take thy meed of bliss to-day,
Thou wilt perish ere to-morrow.
Time has been, when, like thee, thoughtless,
How unlike in all beside !
Lightly sped, and all uncounted,
Blithe I saw the moments glide. Then the world was all of flowers,
Thornless as thy clover-bed ; Then my folly asked no question,
What might be when these were dead. Had not Mercy's sterner pity
Bent its chastening rod on me, Dancing still the round of pleasure, I had died—but not like thee.
THE BEETLE-WORSHIPPER. How comest thou on that gentle hand, where Love should kisses
bring For Beauty's tribute ?-answer me, thou foul and frightful thing! Why dwell upon thy hideous form those reverent eyes that seem Themselves the worshipped stars that light some youthful poet's
dream? "When bends the thick and golden grain, that ripes at my command, From the cracked earth I creep, to bless with food the fainting land; And thus no foulness in my form the grateful people see, But maids as sweet and bright as this are priestesses to me. "Throned in the slime of ancient Nile, I bid the earth to bear, And blades and blossoms at my voice, and corn and fruits appear ; And thus upon my loathly form are showers of beauty shed, And peace and plenty join to Aling a halo round my head.' Dark teacher ! tell me yet again, what hidden lore doth lie Beneath the exoteric type of thy philosophy? 'The Useful is the Beautiful; the good, and kind, and true, To feature and to form impart their own celestial hue. 'Learn farther, that one common chain runs through the heavenly
And links in bonds of brotherhood the beetle and the man;
Both foul and fair alike from Him, the lord of love, do spring-
And this believe, he loves not well who loves not EVERYTHING.'
So work the honey bees;
Creatures that, by a rule in nature, teach
The art of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king, and officers of sorts,
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home;
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad;
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds,
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent royal of their emperor :
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold;
The civil citizens kneading up the honey;
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate;
The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum,
Delivering o'er to executors pale
The lazy yawning drone.
THE BUTTERFLY AND THE SNAIL
As in the sunshine of the morn,
A butterfly, but newly born,
Sat proudly perking on a rose,
With pert conceit his bosom glows;
His wings, all glorious to behold,
Bedropt with azure, jet, and gold,
Wide he displays; the spangled dew
Reflects his eyes and various hue.
His now-forgotten friend, a snail,
Beneath his house, with slimy trail,
Crawls o'er the grass; whom when he spies,
In wrath he to the gardener cries :
'What means yon peasant's daily toil,
From choking weeds to rid the soil ?
Why wake you to the morning's care?
Why with new arts correct the year?
Why glows the peach with crimson hue?
And why the plum's inviting blue?
Were they to feast his taste designed,
That vermin of voracious kind?
Crush then the slow, the pilfering race;
So purge the garden from disgrace!'
What arrogance !' the snail replied;
'How insolent is upstart pride!
Hadst thou not thus, with insult vain,
Provoked my patience to complain,
I had concealed thy meaner birth,
Nor traced thee to the scum of earth,
For scarce nine suns have waked the hours,
To swell the fruit and paint the flowers,
Since I thy humbler life surveyed,
In base and sordid guise arrayed :
A hideous insect, vile, unclean,
You dragged a slow and noisome train;
And from your spider bowels drew
Foul film, and spun the dirty clue.
O let me hope that thus for me,
When life and love shall lose their bloom, Some milder joys may come, like thee,
To light, if not to warm, the gloom !
LOVELY insect, haste away;
Greet once more the sunny day;
Leave, O leave the murky barn,
Ere trapping spiders thee discern;
Soon as seen, they will beset
Thy golden wings with filmy net,
Then all in vain to set thee free,
Hopes all lost for liberty.
Never think that I belie;
Never fear a winter sky;
Budding oaks may now be seen,
Starry daisies deck the green,
Primrose groups the woods adorn,
Cloudless skies, and blossomed thorn:
These all prove that spring is here;
Haste away, then, never fear.
Skim o'er hill and valley free,
Perch upon the blossomed tree;
Though my garden would be best,
Couldst thou but contented rest :
There the school-boy has no power
Thee to chase from flower to flower;
Nought is there but liberty;
Pleasant place for thee and me.
Though the dew-bent level dale
Rears the lily of the vale,
Though the thicket's bushy dell
Tempts thee to the foxglove's bell,
Come but once within my bounds,
View my garden's airy rounds,
Soon thou 'lt find the scene complete,
And every floweret twice as sweet :
Oft I've seen, when warm and dry,
'Mong the bean-fields bosom-high,
How thy starry gems and gold
To admiration would unfold;
Lo! the arching heavenly bow
Doth all his dyes on thee bestow-
Crimson, blue, and watery green,
Mixed with azure shade between;
These are thine-thou first in place,
Queen of all the insect race !
And I've often thought, alone,
This to thee was not unknown;
For amid the sunny hour,
When I've found thee on a flower
(Searching with minutest gleg),
Oft I've seen thy little leg
Soft as glass o'er velvet glides
Smoothen down thy silken sides;
Then thy wings would ope and shut;
Then thou seemingly wouldst strut :
Was it nature, was it pride ?
Let the learned world decide.
Enough for me (though some may deem
This a trifling, silly theme)
Wouldst thou in my garden come,
To join the bee's delightful hum;
These silly themes, then, day and night,
Should be thy trifler's whole delight.