1800
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Nettle and the Daisy.

Morning Post and Gazetteer (22 January 1800).

Mary Robinson


Nine irregular Spenserians (ababccdD) signed "Laura Maria." Mary Robinson's arboreal fable is related to the series developed out of Spenser's Februarie, though the point of conflict is not old versus new, but high versus low, the Daisy heeping scorn on the "Bold Weed." The point of this democratic just-so story is to explain how the nettle got its sting: ""Then, wherefore wonder at my sting! | Can I, so humbled, prove serene? | Can I a grateful aspect bring, | Where nought but smiles of scorn, is seen." The Morning Post had long taken the side of Fox and "the people" in the political controversies surrounding the revolution in France.



Drench'd by a fiercly beating show'r,
A NETTLE bent its foliage dank,
And whelming many a gaudy flow'r,
Shed ruin on its weedy bank:
The Primrose droop'd, the Cowslip died,
The victims of the rapid tide;
But, from a spot securely high,
A sturdy DAISY rais'd its ruby-lustred eye.

"Bold WEED!" the monitor exclaim'd,
"Why art thou plac'd with flowerts sweet!
We are for fragrant graces fam'd,
The morning gales our beauties greet;
We scent the hedge-row's tangled side,
Our breathings o'er the mountains glide,
Our race enliven ev'ry scene,
And dapple, with bright tints, the meadow's sober green.

"We are the blushing maiden's pride,
The am'rous Carles our buds entwine;
We deck the blooming village-bride,
And strew LOVE'S consecrated shrine.
We meet the sun with lust'rous dyes,
In gardens gay exulting rise;
Bloom in the cultur'd paths of taste,
And glow, our sunny day, the sov'reigns of the waste.

"But THOU! ill-favour'd, wandering weed!
What store of beauty dost thou bring?
Thou by the hand of fate decreed
To bear the agonizing sting.
Thy leaves no varied tints display,
The trav'ller shuns thee in his way,
The fearful infant dreads thy pow'r,
For wounding anguish lurks beneath thy sickly show'r."

The NETTLE, with indignant scorn,
Thus to the vaunting bud replied:
"'Tis true, unfavour'd was I born,
For Splendor all her charms denied;
I boast no golden, glossy hue,
No perfume bath'd in lucid dew,
No Sapphire lustre — Ruby glow—
As down my weeping leaves the tears of morning flow.

"I am unnoticed by the proud—
Left, on the hedge row wild, to fade,
Uncourted by the passing crowd,
Or buried in the darksome shade.
I see the meanest gaudy flow'r
Flaunt gayly thro' the sunny hour,
While I am scorn'd, and left to die,
The most neglected child of NATURE'S progeny!

"Then, wherefore wonder at my sting!
Can I, so humbled, prove serene?
Can I a grateful aspect bring,
Where nought but smiles of scorn, is seen.
Insulted, vex'd, denied to rear
My brow where gaudier buds appear;
Shun'd by the trav'ller passing by,
And left by empty PRIDE, on thorny wilds — to die!

"Vain DAISY! well may'st thou be proud,
Thou art by all admir'd, caress'd!
Thou never see'st the scornful croud—
Shunning thy paths, by splendor drest.
Thou are not urg'd by wrongs, to pour
Resentment on each scoffing flow'r,
To dart the wounding sting at those,
Who chill, with cold contempt, thy pillow of repose.

"Know, 'tis NEGLECT'S pernicious pow'r
The finely-sensate soul alarms;
While MIS'RY'S long and stormy hours
The busy Demon VENGEANCE arms!
Repeated wrongs, and proud disdain,
The mildest, purest virtues stain,
While, by strong NATURE'S just command,
FATE gives the pow'rful sting, to meet OPPRESSION'S hand!

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