Ode to Adversity
Daughter of Heav'n, relentless pow'r,
Thou tamer of the human breast,
Whose iron scourge, and tort'ring hour,
The bad affright, afflict the best!
Bound in thy adamantine chain,
The proud are taught to taste of pain,
And purple tyrants vainly groan
With pangs unfelt before, unpitied and alone.
When first thy sire to send on earth
Virtue, his darling child, design'd,
To thee he gave the heavn'ly birth,
And bade to form her infant mind.
Stern rugged nurse! thy rigid lore
With patience many a year she bore.
What sorrow was, thou bad'st her know;
And from her she learn'd to melt at others' wo.
Scar'd at thy frown terrific, fly
Self-pleasing folly's idle brood,
Wild laughter, noise, and thoughtless joy,
And leave us leisure to be good.
Light they disperse; and with them go
The summer-friend, the flatt'ring foe.
By vain prosperity receiv'd,
To her they vow their truth, and are again believ'd.
Wisdom, in sable garb array'd,
Immers'd in rapt'rous thought profound,
And melancholy, silent maid,
With leaden eye that loves the ground,
Still on thy solemn steps attend;
Warm charity, the gen'ral friend,
With justice to herself severe,
And pity, dropping soft the sadly-pleasing tear.
Oh, gently, on the suppliant's head,
Dread pow'r lay thy chast'ning hand!
Not in thy gorgon terrors clad,
Nor circled with the vengeful band,
(As by the impious thou art seen,)
With thund'ring voice, and threat'ning mien,
With screaming horror's fun'ral cry,
Despair, and fell disease, and ghastly poverty.
Thy form benign, propitious, wear,
Thy milder influence impart;
Thy philosophic train be there,
To soften, not to wound my heart.
The gen'rous spark extinct revive:
Teach me to love, and to forgive;
Exact my own defects to scan;
What others are to feel; and know myself a man.
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Edna St. Vincent Millay
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