When Jove sat his cloud-cover’d portal beneath
To laugh and to watch what mankind did
He saw a new flow’r in his cup-bearer’s wreath
And asked where he happen’d to find it.
The rosy boy bowing and filling the bowl
Thus answer’d the Thunderer’s query —
“It loves a cold climate not far from the pole
And first grew, my lord, very near ye.
’Tis whiter than milk, ’tis as tender as silk,
Yet it blooms on the heath of the mountain;
The Mother of Love thought it fit for her glove
When sprinkled and fed by your fountain.
They had it in France half a cent’ry ago
In Scotland and Ireland they claim it,
It bears the same shape in all countries we know
But Englishmen Honesty name it.”
Jove laughing replied, “How you prattle my page!
’Twas a plant of my own cultivation;
I find it complete hardly once in an age
Yet the seeds are in every nation.
In England ’tis shatter’d by frost, wind and rain
Too much for a page’s court-bonnet —
Go, put it in Fancy’s bouquet, and again
’Twill blossom if Beauty smiles on it.
My brisk daughter Venus is absent this year
Since brides of two score are in fashion:
But dames may be found very like her, I hear,
To bring this odd flow’r into fashion.
And tho’ my old fountain in Greece is too dry
The plant I delight in to nourish;
Benevolence now keeps the found I supply
With streams to make Honesty flourish.
Twelve ages to Wisdom I’ve trusted the root
Now Fancy the ornament chooses:
Let Fancy with Wisdom unite, and the fruit
Will be the best gift of the Muses.”
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