An Apologue by Edward Jerningham

Woo’d by the summer gale, an Olive stood
Beside the margin of the silver flood,
Beneath its playful gently-way’ring shade
A Syrian Rose her Eastern bloom display’d!
The flow’r complain’d, that stretching o’er her head
The dark’ning Olive a broad umbrage spread,
Or if admitted to a partial view,
Her blushing leaves imbib’d a yellow hue.

Not unattentive to the mournful strain,
The Master heard his Syrian Rose complain:
The ready axe soon urg’d the fatal wound,
And bow’d the stately Olive to the ground!
The Rose exulting now with full display
Gave all her beauty to the garish day;
But soon her triumph ceas’d—the mid-day beam
Pour’d on her tender frame a scorching stream:
The Rose now sick’ning, drooping, languid, pale,
Call’d the soft show’r, and call’d the cooling gale;
Nor soft’ning show’r, nor gale with cooling breath,
Approach’d, to save her from untimely death.

The humbled Olive saw the Rose distress’d,
And thus with dying voice the flow’r address’d:
Ah! were it not that low-born envy stole
With all its rancour on thy yielding soul,
I might, attir’d in youth’s unfading green,
Have still embellish’d the surrounding scene;
And thou, detaining still th’ admiring eye,
Have breath’d thy little incense to the sky!

From: Jerningham, Mr., Poems [Part 2], 2009, University of Michigan Library: Ann Arbor, Michigan, pp. 130-131.
(http://name.umdl.umich.edu/004891467.0001.002)

Date: 1796

By: Edward Jerningham (1737-1812)

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