LATE IN THE MONTH OF OCTOBER.
THOU last pale promise of the waning year,
Poor, sickly rose! what dost thou here?
Why, frail flower! so late a comer?
Hast thou been asleep all summer?
Since now in sullen autumn’s reign,
When every breeze
Unrobes the trees,
And strews their annual garments on the plain,
Awakening from repose,
Thine eyelids soft unclose.
Paltry, lilliputian flower!
Fairy phantom of an hour!
Every daisy that I see
Spreads a broader bloom than thee;
Nothing, but thy stalk, discloses
Thy descent from royal roses:
How thine ancestors would blush
To behold thee on their bush;
Pursing up thy puny face,
To the scandal of their race!
Thus some make-weight limb of fashion,
Born, like other puppies, blind;
Formed by nature, in a passion,
As a libel on mankind;
Vaunts a pedigree that springs
From the loins of mighty kings,
And claims hereditary right
To play the fool with all his might;
Tho’ the vain animal would pass
For the pure offspring of an ass,
Had not dame nature held back half his due,
And given, instead of four legs, only two!
Last and meanest of thy race,
Void of beauty, void of grace!
No bee delighted sips
Ambrosia from thy lips;
No spangling dew drops gem
Thy fine elastic stem;
No living lustre glistens o’er thy bloom;
Thy sprigs no verdant leaves adorn;
Thy bosom breathes no exquisite perfume;
But pale thy countenance as snow,
While, unconcealed below,
All naked glares the threatening thorn!
Around thy bloom, perplexed with filmy threads.
His subtle web a brigand spider spreads;
Even in thy bosom, he prepares
His venomed shafts of death, and weaves his wily
Like some giant in his castle,
The monster grim
Surveys the horrors of his bastile;
Where many a head, and wing, and
Of slaughtered flies,
To feast his eyes,
Are scattered round,
Like sculls and marrow bones in holy
While I sing, a wandering fly
Merrily comes buzzing by;
Little seems the rogue aware
Of the labyrinthine snare:
Round and round, on winnowing wings,
Lo! the insect wheels and sings:
Closely couched the fiend discovers,
Marks the thoughtless fool draw nigh,
And, while o’er the verge he hovers,
Charms him with a steadfast eye.
As the snake’s magnetic glare
Fascinates the tribes of air,
So the spider’s magic draws
Destined victims to his jaws!
Now, among his brethren mangled,
On his feet alights the fly;
Ah!— he feels himself entangled!
Hark! —he pours a piteous cry!
Swift as death’s own arrows dart,
On his prey the spider springs;
Wounds his side, with dextrous art
Winds the web about his wings;
And quick as thought recoiling then,
The villain vanishes into his den.
The entangled fly perceives, too late,
The gloomy crisis of his fate:
Disaster crouds upon disaster,
And every struggle to get free
Snaps the hopes of liberty,
And draws the knots of bondage faster.
Again the spider glides along the line:
“Hold!—murderer, hold!— the prize is mine!
“Go, simple fly!— go home, thou giddy fool!
“Learn wit and wisdom in misfortune’s school.
“Spider! I spare thy life: for know from me,
“The law of justice is humanity!
“And thou, poor rose! whose livid leaves ex-
“Cold to the sun, untempting to the hand:
“Mean as thou art, I’ll place thee near my soul;
“Not in my heart indeed,—but in my button