"Ode To Reflection." by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)
O THOU, whose sober precepts can controul
The wild impatience of the troubled soul,
Sweet Nymph serene ! whose all-consoling pow'r
Awakes to calm delight the ling'ring hour;
O hear thy suppliant's ardent pray'r !
Chase from my pensive mind corroding care,
Steal thro' the heated pulses of the brain,
Charm sorrow to repose–and lull the throb of pain.
O, tell me, what are life's best joys ?
Are they not visions that decay,
Sweet honey'd poisons, gilded toys,
Vain glitt'ring baubles of a day ?
O say what shadow do they leave behind,
Save the sad vacuum of the sated mind ?
Borne on the eagle wings of Fame,
MAN soars above calm Reason's sway,
"Vaulting AMBITION" mocks each tender claim,
Plucks the dear bonds of social life away;
As o'er the vanquish'd slave she wields her spear,
COMPASSION turns aside---REFLECTlON drops a tear.
Behold the wretch, whose sordid heart,
Steep'd in Content's oblivious balm,
Secure in Luxury's bewitching calm,
Repels pale Mis'ry's touch, and mocks Affliction's smart;
Unmov'd he marks the bitter tear,
In vain the plaints of woe his thoughts assail,
The bashful mourner's pitious tale
Nor melts his flinty soul, nor vibrates on his ear,
O blest REFLECTION ! let thy magic pow'r
Awake his torpid sense, his slumb'ring thought,
Tel1 him ADVERSITY'S unpitied hour
A brighter lesson gives, than Stoics taught:
Tell him that WEALTH no blessing can impart
So sweet as PITY'S tear–that bathes the wounded Heart.
Go tell the vain, the insolent, and fair,
That life's best days are only days of care;
That BEAUTY, flutt'ring like a painted fly,
Owes to the spring of youth its rarest die;
When Winter comes, its charms shall fade away,
And the poor insect wither in decay:
Go bid the giddy phantom learn from thee,
That VIRTUE only braves mortality.
Then come, REFLECTION, soft-ey'd maid !
I know thee, and I prize thy charms;
Come, in thy gentlest smiles array'd,
And I will press thee in my eager arms:
Keep from my aching heart the "fiend DESPAIR,"
Pluck from my brow her THORN, and plant the OLIVE there.