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THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND
AN Oyster, cast upon the shore,
Was heard, though never heard before,
Complaining in a speech well worded,
And worthy thus to be recorded
Ah, hapless wretch! condemn’d to dwell
For ever in my native shell;
Ordain’d to move when others please,
Not for my own content or ease;
But toss'd and buffetted about,
Now in the water and now out.
"Twere better to be born a stone,
Of ruder shape, and feeling none,
Than with a tenderness like mine,
And sensibilities so fine!
I envy that unfeeling shrub,
Fast-rooted against ev'ry rub.
The plant he meant grew not far off,
And felt the sneer with scorn enough;
Was hurt, disgusted, mortified,
And with asperity replied.
When, cry the botanists, and stare,
Did plants call'd sensitive grow there?
No matter when a poet's muse is
To make them grow just where she chooses.
You shapeless nothing in a dish,
You that are but almost a fish,
I scorn your coarse insinuation,
And have most plentiful occasion,
To wish myself the rock I view,
Or such another dolt as you:
For many a grave
and learned clerk,
And many a gay unletter'd spark,
With curious touch examines me,
If I can feel as well as he;
And when I bend, retire, and shrink,
Says-Well, 'tis more than one would think!
Thus life is spent (oh fie upon't!)
In being touch'd, and crying-Don't!
A poet, in his ev'ning walk,
O’erheard and check'd this idle talk.
And your fine sense, he said, and yours,
Whatever evil it endures,
Deserves not, if so soon offended,
Much to be pitied or commended.
Disputes, though short, are far too long,
Where both alike are in the wrong;
Your feelings in their full amount,
Are all upon your own account.
You, in your grotto-work enclos’d,
Complain of being thus expos'd;
Yet nothing feel in that rough coat,
Save when the knife is at your throat,
Wherever driv'n by wind or tide,
Exempt from ev'ry ill beside.
And as for you, my Lady Squeamish,
Who reckon ev'ry touch a blemish,
If all the plants that can be found
Embellishing the scene around,
Should droop and wither where they grow,
You would not feel at all-not you.
The noblest minds their virtue prove
By pity, sympathy, and love:
These, these are feelings truly fine,
And prove their owner half divine.
His censure reach'd them as he dealt it, And each by shrinking show'd he felt it.
WRITTEN IN A TIME OF AFFLICTION,
OH, happy shades—to me unblest!
Friendly to peace, but not to me!
How ill the scene, that offers rest,
And heart, that cannot rest, agree!
II. This glassy stream, that spreading pine,
Those alders quiv'ring to the breeze, Might sooth a soul less hurt than mine,
And please, if any thing could please.
But fix'd unalterable Care
Foregoes not what she feels within,
Shows the same sadness ev'ry where,
And slights the season and the scene.
For all that pleas'd in wood or lawn,
While Peace possess’d these silent bow'rs, Her animating smile withdrawn,
Has lost it's beauties and it's pow'rs.
The saint or moralist should tread
This moss-grown alley musing, slow; They seek like me the secret shade,
But not like me to nourish wo!
Me fruitful scenes and prospects waste
Alike admonish not to roam;
These tell me of enjoyments past,
And those of sorrows yet to come.