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Ode to Beauty

 EXULTING BEAUTY,­phantom of an hour, 
Whose magic spells enchain the heart, 
Ah ! what avails thy fascinating pow'r, 
Thy thrilling smile, thy witching art ? 
Thy lip, where balmy nectar glows; 
Thy cheek, where round the damask rose 
A thousand nameless Graces move, 
Thy mildly speaking azure eyes, 
Thy golden hair, where cunning Love 
In many a mazy ringlet lies? 
Soon as thy radiant form is seen, 
Thy native blush, thy timid mien, 
Thy hour is past ! thy charms are vain! 
ILL-NATURE haunts thee with her sallow train, 
Mean JEALOUSY deceives thy list'ning ear, 
And SLANDER stains thy cheek with many a bitter tear.
In calm retirement form'd to dwell, NATURE, thy handmaid fair and kind, For thee, a beauteous garland twin'd; The vale-nurs'd Lily's downcast bell Thy modest mien display'd, The snow-drop, April's meekest child, With myrtle blossoms undefil'd, Thy mild and spotless mind pourtray'd; Dear blushing maid, of cottage birth, 'Twas thine, o'er dewy meads to stray, While sparkling health, and frolic mirth Led on thy laughing Day.
Lur'd by the babbling tongue of FAME, Too soon, insidious FLATT'RY came; Flush'd VANITY her footsteps led, To charm thee from thy blest repose, While Fashion twin'd about thy head A wreath of wounding woes; See Dissipation smoothly glide, Cold Apathy, and puny Pride, Capricious Fortune, dull, and blind, O'er splendid Folly throws her veil, While Envy's meagre tribe assail Thy gentle form, and spotless mind.
Their spells prevail! no more those eyes Shoot undulating fires; On thy wan cheek, the young rose dies, Thy lip's deep tint expires; Dark Melancholy chills thy mind; Thy silent tear reveals thy woe; TIME strews with thorns thy mazy way, Where'er thy giddy footsteps stray, Thy thoughtless heart is doom'd to find An unrelenting foe.
'Tis thus, the infant Forest flow'r Bespangled o'er with glitt'ring dew, At breezy morn's refreshing hour, Glows with pure tints of varying hue, Beneath an aged oak's wide spreading shade, Where no rude winds, or beating storms invade.
Transplanted from its lonely bed, No more it scatters perfumes round, No more it rears its gentle head, Or brightly paints the mossy ground; For ah! the beauteous bud, too soon, Scorch'd by the burning eye of day; Shrinks from the sultry glare of noon, Droops its enamell'd brow, and blushing, dies away.

by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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