Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Rose Talks Back

I hate the man who builds his name
On ruins of another's fame.
Thus prudes, by characters overthrown,
Imagine that they raise their own.
Thus scribblers, covetous of praise,
Think slander can transplant the bays.
Beauties and bards have equal pride,
With both all rives are decried . . . 

As in the cool of early day 
A poet sought the sweets of May,
The garden's fragrant breath ascends,
And every stalk with odor bends.
A rose he plucked, he gazed, admired,
Thus singing as the Mus inspired:
'Go, rose, my Chloe's bosom grace;
How happy should I prove;
MIght I supply that envied place
With never-fading love!
There, Phoenix-like, beneath her eye,
Involved in fragrance, burn and die!

'Know, hapless flower, that thou shalt find
More fragrant roses there;
I see thy withering head reclined
With envy and despair!
One common fate we both must prove;
You die with envy, I with love.'

'Spare your comparisons,' replied
An angry Rose who grew beside.
'Of all mankind, you should not flout us;
What can a poet do without us?
In every love song roses bloom,
We lend you color and perfume.
Does it to Chloe's charms conduce
To found her praise on our abuse?
Must we, to flatter her, be made
To wither, envy, pine and fade?'
John Gay

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