A First Series of Hymns and Songs/Descriptive Songs/The Harebell and the Foxglove
35. The Harebell and the Foxglove.
In a valley obscure, on a bank of green shade,
A sweet little Harebell her dwelling had made;
Her roof was a woodbine that tastefully spread
Its close-woven tendrils o'erarching her head;
Her bed was of moss that each morning made new;
She din'd on a sunbeam and supp'd on the dew;
Her neighbour the nightingale sang her to rest,
And care had ne'er planted its thorn in her breast.
One morning she saw on the opposite side
A Foxglove displaying his colours of pride;
She gazed on his form, that in stateliness grew,
And envied his height and his beautiful hue;
She mark'd how the flow'rets all gave way before him.
While they press'd round her dwelling with far less decorum.
Dissatisfied, jealous, and peevish she grows,
And the sight of this Foxglove destroys her repose.
She tires of her vesture, and swelling with spleen,
Cries, "Ne'er such a dowdy blue mantle was seen!"
Nor keeps to herself any longer her pain,
But thus to a Primrose begins to complain:
"I envy your mood, that can patient abide
The respect paid that Foxglove, his airs and his pride:
There you lit, still the same, with your colourless cheek;
But you have no spirit—would I were as meek!"
The Primrose, good-humoured, replied, "If you knew
More about him—(remember I'm older than you,
And, better instructed, can tell you his tale)—
You would envy him least of all flowers in this vale;
With all his fine airs and his dazzling show,
No flower more baneful and odious can blow;
And the reason the others before him give way
Is because they all hate him and shrink from his sway.
To stay near him long would be fading or death,
For he scatters a pest with his venomous breath;
While the flowers that you fancy are crowding you there,
Spring round you delighted your converse to share.
His flame-coloured robe is imposing, 'tis true,
Yet who likes it so well as your mantle of blue?
For we know that of innocence one is the vest,
The other the cloak of a treacherous breast.
I see your surprise—but I know him full well,
And have numbered his victims as fading they fell;
He blighted twin violets that under him lay,
And poison'd a sister of mine the same day."
The Primrose was silent; the Harebell, 'tis said,
Inclined for a moment her beautiful head,
But quickly recover'd her spirits, and then
Declared that she ne'er would feel envy again.