The Vanity of the Vulgar Great


             Stay, thou ambitious rill,
          Ignoble offering of some fount impure!
             Beneath the rugged hill,
          Gloomy with shade, thou hadst thy birth obscure;
             With faint steps issuing slow,
          In scanty waves among the rocks to flow.

             Fling not abroad thy spray,
          Nor fiercely lash the green turf at thy side!
             What though indulgent May
          With liquid snows hath swoln thy foaming tide?
             August will follow soon,
          To still thy boastings with his scorching noon.

             Lo! calmly through the vale
          The Po, the king of rivers, sweeps along;
             Yet many a mighty sail
          Bears on his breast---proud vessels, swift and strong.
             Nor from the meadow's side
          'Neath summer's sun recedes his lessen'd tide.

             Thou, threatening all around,
          Dost foam and roar along thy troubled path;
             In grandeur newly found,
          Stunning the gazer with thy noisy wrath!
             Yet, foolish stream! not one
          Of all thy boasted glories is thine own.

             The smile of yonder sky
          Is brief, and change the fleeting seasons know;
             On barren sands and dry,
          Soon to their death thy brawling waves shall flow.
             O'er thee, in summer's heat,
          Shall pass the traveler with unmoisten'd fee

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.