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Robert Southey

(1774 - 1843 / Bristol / England)

Birth-Day Ode 03


And wouldst thou seek the low abode
Where PEACE delights to dwell?
Pause Traveller on thy way of life!
With many a snare and peril rife
Is that long labyrinth of road:
Dark is the vale of years before
Pause Traveller on thy way!
Nor dare the dangerous path explore
Till old EXPERIENCE comes to lend his leading ray.

Not he who comes with lanthorn light
Shall guide thy groping pace aright
With faltering feet and slow;
No! let him rear the torch on high
And every maze shall meet thine eye,
And every snare and every foe;
Then with steady step and strong,
Traveller, shalt thou march along.

Tho' POWER invite thee to her hall,
Regard not thou her tempting call
Her splendors meteor glare;
Tho' courteous Flattery there await
And Wealth adorn the dome of State,
There stalks the midnight spectre CARE;
PEACE, Traveller! does not sojourn there.

If FAME allure thee, climb not thou
To that steep mountain's craggy brow
Where stands her stately pile;
For far from thence does PEACE abide,
And thou shall find FAME'S favouring smile
Cold as the feeble Sun on Heclas snow-clad side,

And Traveller! as thou hopest to find
That low and loved abode,
Retire thee from the thronging road
And shun the mob of human kind.
Ah I hear how old EXPERIENCE schools,
"Fly fly the crowd of Knaves and Fools
"And thou shalt fly from woe;
"The one thy heedless heart will greet
"With Judas smile, and thou wilt meet
"In every Fool a Foe!"

So safely mayest thou pass from these,
And reach secure the home of PEACE,
And FRIENDSHIP find thee there.
No happier state can mortal know,
No happier lot can Earth bestow
If LOVE thy lot shall share.
Yet still CONTENT with him may dwell
Whom HYMEN will not bless,
And VIRTUE sojourn in the cell
Of HERMIT HAPPINESS.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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