Wild Rose





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