THE ELM AND VINE.
Inscribed to a LADY who expressed a great aversion to MARRIAGE.
1 IN Aesop's days, when trees cou'd speak,
2 And talk in Hebrew, Latin, Greek,
3 An elm and vine, by chance near neighbours,
4 Tho' separate, each pursu'd their labours;
5 The vine, with native sweetness fraught,
6 For man prepar'd the chearing draught;
7 Her tendrils curl'd along the plain,
8 And ruddy clusters swell'd amain.
9 The tow'ring elm could little boast,
10 But leaves — a barren shade at most;
11 Save when by woodman's sturdy stroke
12 Cut down to make a chair, or spoke;
13 Yet tho' but small his claim to merit,
14 Not wholly void of sense or spirit,
15 His neighbour's worth he view'd with smiles,
16 And long'd to share her useful toils. [Page 130]
17 For, "O! said he, were we but one,
18 "Sure bliss would enter here alone;
19 "For I by you encircled high,
20 "Should scorn the oak's proud majesty,
21 "While your rich fruit time might mature
22 "From storms and savage beasts secure;
23 "Our mutual help would soothe our care,
24 "And heav'n approve the happy pair. "
25 "Forbear, sir elm, the vine reply'd,
26 "Nor wonder if your suit's deny'd.
27 "Shall I give up my independence,
28 "On your caprice to dance attendance?
29 "Must I, or nod, or bend, or twine,
30 "Just as your worship shall incline?
31 "Or shall my charms, which all admire,
32 "Become a barren tree's attire?
33 "No — seek more suitable alliance —
34 "I to all danger bid defiance.
35 "Here, unconfin'd, I range my fill;
36 "And bounteous nature waits my will. "
37 At this the modest elm struck mute,
38 Forbore to urge his friendly suit:
39 But, sorely griev'd to meet disdain,
40 A tender sigh express'd his pain.
41 When, lo! thick darkness veils the pole,
42 Dread lightnings flash, loud thunders roll;
43 Impetuous rains in floods descend,
44 And trembling nature fears an end.
45 The vine, faint, spiritless, forlorn,
46 Now seeks the succour late her scorn:[Page 131]
47 Creeps feebly to the elm's embrace;
48 And in his arms finds sweet solace;
49 United thus they storms defy,
50 And mutual grace and aid supply.