There dost thou glide from fair to fair,
Still simpering on with eager haste,
As flies along the gay parterre,
That taint the flowers they scarcely taste.
But say, what nymph will prize the flame
Which seems, as marshy vapours move,
To flit along from dame to dame,
An ignis-fatuus gleam of love?
What friend for thee, howe'er inclin'd
Will deign to own a kindred care?
Who will debase his manly mind,
For friendship every fool may share?
In time forbear; amidst the throng
No more so base a thing be seen;
No more so idly pass along;
Be something, any thing, but—mean.
August 20th, 1808. [First published, 1809.]