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''Twas her's to bid the troops engage,
And now the siren's armies press,
Health rang'd her troops with matchless art,
Afar when Luxury descried
Jove held the troops in high disgrace,
THE SUNFLOWER AND THE IVY.
As duteous to the place of prayer,
Within the convent's lonely walls, The holy sisters still repair,
What time the rosy morning calls :
So fair, each morn, so full of grace,
Within their little garden rear'd, The flower of Phoebus turn'd her face
To meet the power she lov'd and fear'd.
And where, along the rising sky,
Her god in brighter glory burn'd, Still there her fond observant eye,
And there her golden breast she turn'd.
When calling from their weary height
On western waves his beams to rest, Still there she sought the parting sight,
And there she turn'd her golden breast,
But soon as night's invidious shade
Afar his lovely looks had borne, With folded leaves and drooping head,
Full sore she griev'd, as one forlorn.
Such duty in a flower display'd
The holy sisters smild to see, For gave the pagan rites it paid,
And lov'd its fond idolatry.
But painful still, though meant for kind,
The praise that falls on Envy's ear! O'er the dim window's arch-entwin'd,
The canker'd Ivy chanc'd to hear.
And see (she cried) that specious flower,
Whose flattering bosom courts the sun, The pageant of a gilded hour,
The convent's simple hearts hath won !
• Obsequious meanness! ever prone
To watch the patron's turning eye ; No will, no motion of its own !
'Tis this they love, for this they sigh:
• Go, splendid sycophant ! no more
Display thy soft seductive arts !
Nor spoil the convent's simple hearts.
• To me their praise more justly due,
Of longer bloom, and happier grace ! Whom changing months unalter'd view,
And find them in my fond embrace.'
• How well (the modest flower replied)
Can Envy's wrested eye elude The obvious bounds that still divide
Foul Flattery from fair Gratitude.
My duteous praise each hour I pay,
For few the hours that I must live; And give to him my little day,
Whose grace another day may give.
• When low this golden forin shall fall,
And spread with dust its parent plain, That dust shall hear his genial call,
And rise, to glory rise again.
• To thee, my gracious power, to thee
My love, my heart, my life are due ! Thy goodness gave that life to be ;
Thy goodness shall that life renew.
• Ah me! one moment from thy sight
That thus my truant-eye should stray ! The god of glory sets in night!
His faithless flower has lost a day.'
Sore griev'd the flower, and droop'd her head ,
And sudden tears her breast bedew'd : Consenting tears the sisters shed,
And, wrapt in holy wonder, view'd.
With joy, with pious pride elate,
• Behold (the aged abbess cries) An emblem of that happier fate
Which Heaven to all but us denies.
• Our hearts no fears but duteous fears,
No charm but duty's charm can move ; We shed no tears but holy tears
Of tender penitence and love.
• See there the envious world portray'd
In that dark look, that creeping pace! No flower can bear the Ivy's shade;
No tree support its cold embrace.
• The oak that rears it from the ground,
And bears its tendrils to the skies, Feels at his heart the rankling wound,
And in its poisonous arms he dies.'
Her moral thus the matron read,
Studious to teach her children dear, And they by love, or duty led,
With pleasure heard, or seem'd to hear.
Yet one less duteous, not less fair,
(In convents still the tale is known) The fable heard with silent care,
But found a moral of her own.
The flower that smil'd along the day,
And droop'd in tears at evening's fall ; Too well she found her life display,
Too well her fatal lot recall.
The treacherous Ivy's gloomy shade,
That inurder'd what it most embrac'd, Too well that cruel scene convey'd
Which all her fairer hopes effac’d.
Her heart with silent horror sbook ;
With sighs she sought her lonely cell :
THE MISLETOE AND THE PASSION-FLOWER.
In this dim cave a Druid sleeps,
Where stops the passing gale to moan; The rock he hollow'd o'er him weeps,
And cold drops wear the fretted stone.
In this dim cave, of different creed,
An hermit's holy ashes rest;
Which many a formal matin blest.
That truant-time full well I know,
When here I brought, in stolen hour, The Druid's magic Misletoe,
The holy hermit's Passion-flower.
The offerings on the mystic stone
Pensive I laid, in thought profound, When from the cave a deepening groan
Issued, and froze me to the ground.
I hear it still-Dost thou not hear ?
Does not thy haunted fancy start ?
The horror rushes on my heart.
Unlike to living sounds it came,
Unmix'd, unmelodiz'd with breath;
Creak’d from the bony lungs of Death.