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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 call’d 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 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 touchd, and crying-Don't!
A poet, in his evening walk,
O’erheard and check'd this idle talk.
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,
their owner half divine. His censure reach'd them as he dealt it, And each by shrinking show'd he felt it.
WRITTEN IN A TIME OF AFFLICTION,
Oh, happy shades—to me unblest!
Friendly to peace, but not to me! How ill the scene that offers rest,
And heart, that cannot rest, agree !
This glassy stream, that spreading pine,
Those alders quivering to the breeze, Might soothe a soul less hurt than mine,
And please, if any thing could please.
But fix'd unalterable care,
Foregoes not what she feels within, Shows the same sadness every where,
And slights the season and the scene.
For all that pleased in wood or lawn,
While peace possess'd these silent bowers, Her animating smile withdrawn,
Has lost its beauties and its powers.
The saint or moralist should tread
This moss-grown alley, musing slow; They seek like me the secret shade,
But not like me, to nourish woe!
Me fruitful scenes and prospects waste,
Alike admonish not to roam ; These tell me of enjoyments past,
And those of sorrows yet to come.
NECESSARY TO THE HAPPINESS OF THE
The lady thus address'd her spouse
What a mere dungeon is this house !
By no means large enough; and was it,
Yet this dull room, and that dark closet,
Those hangings with their worn-out graces,
Long beards, long noses, and pale faces,
Are such an antiquated scene,
They overwhelm me with the spleen.
Sir Humphrey, shooting in the dark,
Makes answer quite beside the mark:
No doubt, my dear, I bade him come,
Engaged myself to be at home,
And shall expect him at the door
Precisely when the clock strikes four.
You are so deaf, the lady cried,
(And raised her voice, and frown'd beside)
You are so sadly deaf, my dear,
What shall I do to make you hear ?
Dismiss poor Harry! he replies ;
Some people are more nice than wise,
For one slight trespass all this stir ?
What if he did ride whip and spur,
'Twas but a mile—your favourite horse
Will never look one hair the worse.
Well, I protest 'tis past all bearing-
Child! I am rather hard of hearing-
Yes, truly—one must scream and bawl:
I tell you, you can't hear at all!
Then, with a voice exceeding low,
No matter if you hear or no.
Alas ! and is domestic strife,
That sorest ill of human life,
A plague so little to be feard,
As to be wantonly incurrd,
To gratify a fretful passior,
On every trivial provocation ?
The kindest and the happiest pair
Will find occasion to forbear: