UPON a garden's perfum'd bed With various gaudy colours spread, Beneath the shelter of a ROSE A BUTTERFLY had sought repose; Faint, with the sultry beams of day, Supine the beauteous insect lay.
A BEE, impatient to devour The nectar sweets of ev'ry flow'r, Returning to her golden store, A weight of fragrant treasure bore; With envious eye, she mark'd the shade, Where the poor BUTTERFLY was laid, And resting on the bending spray, Thus murmur'd forth her drony lay:Â
"Thou empty thing, whose merit lies In the vain boast of orient dies; Whose glittering form the slightest breath Robs of its gloss, and fades to death; Who idly rov'st the summer day, Flutt'ring a transient life away, Unmindful of the chilling hour, The nipping frost, the drenching show'r; Who heedless of "to-morrow's fare," Mak'st present bliss thy only care; Is it for THEE, the damask ROSE With such transcendent lustre glows? Is it for such a giddy thing Nature unveils the blushing spring? Hence, from thy lurking place, and know, 'Tis not for THEE her beauties glow."
The BUTTERFLY, with decent pride, In gentle accents, thus reply'd: "'Tis true, I flutter life away In pastime, innocent and gay; The SUN that decks the blushing spring Gives lustre to my painted wing; 'Tis NATURE bids each colour vie, With rainbow tints of varying die; I boast no skill, no subtle pow'r To steal the balm from ev'ry flow'r; The ROSE, that only shelter'd ME, Has pour'd a load of sweets on THEE; Of merit we have both our share, Heav'n gave thee ART, and made me FAIR; And tho' thy cunning can despise The humble worth of harmless flies; Remember, envious, busy thing, Thy honey'd form conceals a sting; Enjoy thy garden, while I rove The sunny hill, the woodbine grove, And far remov'd from care and THEE, Embrace my humble destiny; While in some lone sequester'd bow'r, I'll live content beyond thy pow'r; For where ILL-NATURE holds her reign TASTE, WORTH, and BEAUTY, plead in vain; E'en GENIUS must to PRIDE submit When ENVY wings the shaft of WIT.