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The Bee and the Butterfly

Written by: Mary Darby Robinson | Biography
 UPON a garden's perfum'd 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 ev'ry flow'r, 
Returning to her golden store, 
A weight of fragrant treasure bore; 
With envious eye, she mark'd the shade, 
Where the poor BUTTERFLY was laid, 
And resting on the bending spray, 
Thus murmur'd 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 rov'st the summer day, 
Flutt'ring a transient life away, 
Unmindful of the chilling hour, 
The nipping frost, the drenching show'r; 
Who heedless of "to-morrow's fare," 
Mak'st 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 reply'd: 
"'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 pow'r 
To steal the balm from ev'ry flow'r; 
The ROSE, that only shelter'd ME, 
Has pour'd a load of sweets on THEE; 
Of merit we have both our share, 
Heav'n gave thee ART, and made me FAIR; 
And tho' thy cunning can despise 
The humble worth of harmless flies; 
Remember, envious, busy thing, 
Thy honey'd form conceals a sting; 
Enjoy thy garden, while I rove 
The sunny hill, the woodbine grove, 
And far remov'd from care and THEE, 
Embrace my humble destiny; 
While in some lone sequester'd bow'r, 
I'll live content beyond thy pow'r;
For where ILL-NATURE holds her reign 
TASTE, WORTH, and BEAUTY, plead in vain; 
E'en GENIUS must to PRIDE submit 
When ENVY wings the shaft of WIT.



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