Royall Tyler

The Sensitive Plant: A Fable

 Next Poem          

Mr. Dunham,

The lover of Classical Poetry, who has read and relished Dr. Langhorne's "Fables of Flora," will recognize the picturesque imagery, and bold description of that inventive writer, in the followingchef d'oeuvre , written by certain of our own poets. The celebrated portrait of the Druid, in Langhorne's last Fable, was never equalled, till the "Cave of Chastity" was delineated, in the following poem, by his American rival.--D.

Go, ask the nymph with beauty blest,
Whose heart with winning softness moves,
Why coy disdain oft swells her breast,
Why oft repels the suing loves?
The loveliest human flower on earth
Is ANNA--ANNA the poet's fairest choice;
Venus assisted at her birth,
The Muses tuned her infant voice.
Go, said the smiling queen of love,
Ye graces, deck the infant fair;
Paint the soft blush, the dimples move,
And twine the little length of hair.
Obedient to their queen's command,
They scatter o'er etherial fields,
Or seek what sea, or air, or land,
Of beauty, or of fragrance yields.
Some cull the nectarine's richest dye,
Some choose the snow-drop's virgin hue,
Or rob the rose'd, blushing sky,
Of purest essence of the dew.
Some seek Arabia's balmy sweets,
To give the fragrance of her breath;
Some dive for pearls old ocean's deeps
To mark the whiteness of her teeth.
Her eye-brow's perfect curve to prove,
The rain-bow's radiant arch they try;
And steal the meekness of the dove,
To point the glances of her eye.
A favorite few to heaven repair,
Sublimer sweets in heaven to find,
They cull the choicest virtues there,
To form the beauties of her mind.
The infant heart they form with care,
To give each growing virtue room,
They plant the seeds of wisdom there,
But give to sweetness its full bloom.
And now the busy work proceeds,
They shape the waist, and smooth the tongue,
Give each limb the grace it needs,
And now the work is almost done.
Sly Cupid viewed the busy throng,
The wily urchin, bent on hurt,
He looked, and longed--he looked, and longed,
To mar his beauteous mother's work.
And when they blew those temperate fires,
Whence the chaste virgin's virtue springs,
Threw in a bunch of warm desires,
And stirred them with his roseate wings.
Minerva saw the spiteful deed,
Indignant frowned the angry fair--
The lovely caitiff urged his speed,
And sought the bosom of the air.
But, Venus, know, Minerva said,
My vengeance to thy rage I join,
For, when you decked the cherub babe,
The wisdom, and the worth were mine.
Malicious Love! in vain you've fought
Your noxious aims to gain secure;
The deepest mischiefs, love has wrought,
Sage wisdom's goddess well can cure.
And see--the unchaste desires dispense
Their venom through the infant soul;
We cannot draw the infection thence,
Unless we mar the beauteous whole.
Lo! where yon rugged rocks uprear
Their ponderous heads--enormous load!
Pale, frozen Chastity is there;
There makes her lonely, drear abode.
O'er that cold cave eternal snows
Scatter their dampening influence round,
Through the thin fissures ooze, and flow,
In streamlets, o'er the clammy ground.
Thither the ancient maids repair,
They love its cool, sequestered shade:
They had a kindred coldness there,
There, renew the vows they've made.
Just where the cave's broad portals stand,
A Wonderous plant will greet your eyes,
Which, at the impassioned touch of man,
Shrinks back--and in a moment dies.
Yet not extinct its vital fires,
Not long to death a prey remains;
When the rude spoiler's hand retires,
It animates to life again.
Haste, hither bring the wondrous plant,
I'll root it deep in ANNA'S breast;
Bid it the warm desires supplant,
And chide the passions into rest.
This done; and straight the heavenly pair
Sublimely scaled the radiant spheres,
Gave ANNA to the Graces' care,
Bade virtue watch her growing years.
Nor think the Muse would here presume
To cheat you with a poet's dream,
With visions, wove in Fancy's loom,
Tales, light as bubbles on the stream.
Believe what friendship, love, relate;
I marked, when ANNA'S teens were done;
I saw the virtues on her wait,
Beam from her eye, flow from her tongue.
I saw the Graces round her trip,
Ascend her waist, sport in her hair;
The little loves played round her lip,
The young desires all nestled there.
Love raged--I sought my ANNA'S bower,
The heart beat high, the pulses pant,
'Twas then I owned the sovereign power,
Confessed the virtues of the plant.
The tender tale of love I told,
Warm ANNA'S heart began to love,
She blushed--the plant that blush controlled,
She shrunk the touch of youthful love.
And know, each nymph, this plant is yours;
Each bashful virgin feels its aid;
For sage Minerva's gift secures
The beauties of each virtuous maid.
This plant the heart, the gardens yield.
Though men have different names assigned,
Called SENSITIVE, when in the field,
And MODESTY, when in the mind.

Next Poem 

 Back to
Royall Tyler