LET the false world, with dark reproach, compare
Thy winding course, to their meand’ring wiles,
That ceaseless form for INNOCENCE the snare,
And brew black venom under infant smiles.
Compare thy beautifully-tinted skin,
Thy graceful motion, and fair tapering form,
To those temptations that allure to sin:
To the gay sunshine that precedes the storm.
Gift thee with all the doublings of DECEIT,
In simplest guise still watchful to betray:
And, deep in human artifice, complete
The deadly character themselves display.
Such as young ACHMED (happier ACHMED here),
In FORTUNE’s golden day, too sadly found:
Such as the seasons of the circling year
Shall still survey, in their unwearied round.
Thou blameless inmate of the thorny brake,
Heed not the blast of man’s calumnious breath:
O ne’er the VIPER attributes partake,
Whose venomed rancour joys in wounds and death.
Should barbarous RAGE, or MALICE seek thy life,
Retire, haste, hide thee in some deep recess,
Nor with contemptuous hiss provoke a strife
That would destroy thy simple happiness.
Yet (and perhaps with truth) thy frequent flight
Has borne the stigma of a coward fear:
With COWARDICE base cruelties unite,
And run with TREACHERY a dread career.
When PRUDENCE calls, true bravery will retreat,
Nor trust the GEM OF LIFE in HATRED’s hand.
INTEGRITY, uncensured, dreads DECEIT,
As WISDOM shuns the touch of FOLLY’s wand.
The BRAVE are generous, sincere and free,
The COWARD flies from all but INFAMY.