Written at Rydal Mount. Prompted by the undue importance
attached to personal beauty by some dear friends of mine.
LOOK at the fate of summer flowers,
Which blow at daybreak, droop e'er evensong;
And, grieved for their brief date, confess that ours,
Measured by what we are and ought to be,
Measured by all that, trembling, we foresee,
Is not so long!
If human Life do pass away,
Perishing yet more swiftly than the flower,
If we are creatures of a 'winter's' day;
What space hath Virgin's beauty to disclose
Her sweets, and triumph o'er the breathing rose?
Not even an hour!
The deepest grove whose foliage hid
The happiest lovers Arcady might boast,
Could not the entrance of this thought forbid:
O be thou wise as they, soul-gifted Maid!
Nor rate too high what must so quickly fade,
So soon be lost.
Then shall love teach some virtuous Youth
"To draw, out of the object of his eyes,"
The while on thee they gaze in simple truth,
Hues more exalted, "a refined Form,"
That dreads not age, nor suffers from the worm,
And never dies.