Mary Robinson ( )

Ode to Reflection

O THOU, whose sober precepts can controul 
The wild impatience of the troubled soul, 
Sweet Nymph serene ! whose all-consoling powr 
Awakes to calm delight the lingring hour; 
O hear thy suppliants ardent prayr ! 
Chase from my pensive mind corroding care, 
Steal thro the heated pulses of the brain, 
Charm sorrow to reposeand lull the throb of pain. 

O, tell me, what are lifes best joys? 
Are they not visions that decay, 
Sweet honeyd poisons, gilded toys, 
Vain glittring baubles of a day? 
O say what shadow do they leave behind, 
Save the sad vacuum of the sated mind? 

Borne on the eagle wings of Fame, 
MAN soars above calm Reasons sway, 
Vaulting AMBITION mocks each tender claim, 
Plucks the dear bonds of social life away; 
As oer the vanquishd slave she wields her spear, 
COMPASSION turns aside---REFLECTlON drops a tear. 

Behold the wretch, whose sordid heart, 
Steepd in Contents oblivious balm, 
Secure in Luxurys bewitching calm, 
Repels pale Misrys touch, and mocks Afflictions smart; 
Unmovd he marks the bitter tear, 
In vain the plaints of woe his thoughts assail, 
The bashful mourners pitious tale 
Nor melts his flinty soul, nor vibrates on his ear, 

O blest REFLECTION ! let thy magic powr 
Awake his torpid sense, his slumbring thought, 
Tel1 him ADVERSITYS unpitied hour 
A brighter lesson gives, than Stoics taught: 
Tell him that WEALTH no blessing can impart 
So sweet as PITYS tearthat bathes the wounded Heart. 

Go tell the vain, the insolent, and fair, 
That lifes best days are only days of care; 
That BEAUTY, fluttring like a painted fly, 
Owes to the spring of youth its rarest die; 
When Winter comes, its charms shall fade away, 
And the poor insect wither in decay: 
Go bid the giddy phantom learn from thee, 
That VIRTUE only braves mortality. 

Then come, REFLECTION, soft-eyd maid! 
I know thee, and I prize thy charms; 
Come, in thy gentlest smiles arrayd, 
And I will press thee in my eager arms: 
Keep from my aching heart the fiend DESPAIR, 
Pluck from my brow her THORN, and plant the OLIVE there.

Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. Stanzas to Time
  2. To Cesario
  3. Sonnet 22. Wild Is the Foaming Sea
  4. The Bee and the Butterfly
  5. Ode to Melancholy

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