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THE COMMONWEALTH OF BEES.

And utter now and then an awful voice,
But had a blessing in its darkest frown,
Threat'ning at once and nourishing the plant.
We lov'd, but not enough, the gentle hand
That reared us. At a thoughtless age, allured
By every gilded folly, we renounc'd
His shelt'ring side, and wistfully forewent
That converse which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected sire! A mother too,
The softer friend, perhaps more gladly still,
Might he demand them at the gates of death.
Sorrow has, since they went, subdued and tamed
The playful humour; he could now endure,
(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears),
And feel a parent's presence no restraint.
But not to understand a treasure's worth
Till time has stol'n away the slighted good,
Is cause of half the poverty we feel,

And makes the world the wilderness it is.
The few that pray at all pray oft amiss,
And seeking grace t' improve the prize they hold,
Would urge a wiser suit than asking more.

115

COWPER.

THE COMMONWEALTH OF BEES.

So work the honey-bees: Creatures that, by a rule in nature, teach The art of order to a peopled kingdom.

116

TO MAY.

They have a king, and officers of sorts,-
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home;
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad;
Others, like soldiers, armèd 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.

SHAKSPERE.

TO MAY.

THOUGH many suns have risen and set
Since thou, blithe May, wert born,
And bards who hail'd thee may forget
Thy gifts, thy beauty scorn;
There are who to a birthday strain
Confine not harp and voice,
But evermore throughout thy reign
Are grateful, and rejoice.

Delicious odours; music sweet,
Too sweet to pass away;

TO MAY.

Oh, for a deathless song to meet
The soul's desire—a lay,
That, when a thousand years are told,
Should praise thee, genial power!
Through summer heat, autumnal cold,
And winter's dreariest hour.

Earth, sea, thy presence feel-nor less
(If yon ethereal blue

With its soft smile the truth express,)
The heavens have felt it too.
The inmost heart of man, if glad,
Partakes a livelier cheer;

And eyes that cannot but be sad
Let fall a brighten'd tear.

Since thy return, through days and weeks
Of hope that grew by stealth,
How many wan and faded cheeks
Have kindled into health!
The old, by thee revived, have said,
"Another year is ours;"
And way-worn wanderers, poorly fed,
Have smiled upon thy flowers.

Who tripping lisps a merry song
Amid his playful peers
The tender infant, who was long
A prisoner of fond fears;

But now, when every sharp-edged blast
Is quiet in its sheath,

His mother leaves him free to taste
Earth's sweetness in thy breath.

117

118

ADVERSITY.

Thy help is with the weed that creeps
Along the humblest ground;
No cliff so bare but on its steeps
Thy favours may be found;
But most on some peculiar nook

That our own hands have drest,
Thou and thy train are proud to look,
And seem to love it best.

And yet how pleased we wander forth
When May is whispering, "Come!
Choose from the bowers of virgin earth

The happiest for your home;

Heaven's bounteous love through me is spread
From sunshine, clouds, winds, waves,-
Drops on the mouldering turret's head,
And on your turf-clad graves."

WORDSWORTH.

ADVERSITY.

HATH not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference; as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body,
E'en till I shrink with cold, I smile, and say,

VANITY OF HUMAN GREATNESS.

119

This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running
brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

SHAKSPERE.

VANITY OF HUMAN GREATNESS.

FAREWELL, a long farewell to all my greatness!
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost;
And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventur'd,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride
At length broke under me; and now hath left me,
Weary and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of the world, I hate ye!
I feel my heart new open'd. Oh, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours!

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