A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Bee and the Butterfly." by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)
From: Robinson, Mrs. M. Poems. London: J. Bell, 1791. pp. 154-156.

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[Page 154]

THE

BEE AND THE BUTTERFLY.

A

FABLE.

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;

[Page 155]

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;

[Page 156]

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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