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Poem by Mary Robinson

The Bee and the Butterfly

UPON a gardens perfumd bed 
With various gaudy colours spread, 
Beneath the shelter of a ROSE 
A BUTTERFLY had sought repose; 
Faint, with the sultry beams of day, 
Supine the beauteous insect lay. 

A BEE, impatient to devour
The nectar sweets of evry flowr, 
Returning to her golden store, 
A weight of fragrant treasure bore; 
With envious eye, she markd the shade, 
Where the poor BUTTERFLY was laid, 
And resting on the bending spray, 
Thus murmurd forth her drony lay: 

Thou empty thing, whose merit lies 
In the vain boast of orient dies; 
Whose glittering form the slightest breath 
Robs of its gloss, and fades to death; 
Who idly rovst the summer day, 
Fluttring a transient life away, 
Unmindful of the chilling hour, 
The nipping frost, the drenching showr; 
Who heedless of to-morrows fare, 
Makst present bliss thy only care; 
Is it for THEE, the damask ROSE 
With such transcendent lustre glows? 
Is it for such a giddy thing 
Nature unveils the blushing spring? 
Hence, from thy lurking place, and know, 
Tis not for THEE her beauties glow. 

The BUTTERFLY, with decent pride, 
In gentle accents, thus replyd: 
Tis true, I flutter life away 
In pastime, innocent and gay; 
The SUN that decks the blushing spring 
Gives lustre to my painted wing; 
Tis NATURE bids each colour vie, 
With rainbow tints of varying die; 
I boast no skill, no subtle powr 
To steal the balm from evry flowr; 
The ROSE, that only shelterd ME, 
Has pourd a load of sweets on THEE; 
Of merit we have both our share, 
Heavn gave thee ART, and made me FAIR; 
And tho thy cunning can despise 
The humble worth of harmless flies; 
Remember, envious, busy thing, 
Thy honeyd form conceals a sting; 
Enjoy thy garden, while I rove 
The sunny hill, the woodbine grove, 
And far removd from care and THEE, 
Embrace my humble destiny; 
While in some lone sequesterd bowr, 
Ill live content beyond thy powr;
For where ILL-NATURE holds her reign 
TASTE, WORTH, and BEAUTY, plead in vain; 
Een GENIUS must to PRIDE submit 
When ENVY wings the shaft of WIT.

Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. Sonnet 24. O Thou! Meek Orb
  2. Stanzas Written under an Oak in Windsor Forest
  3. The Widows Home
  4. To Cesario
  5. Sonnet 44. Here Droops the Muse

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