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Mary Darby Robinson

(1758 - 1800 / England)

Ode to Envy


Deep in th' abyss where frantic horror bides,
In thickest mists of vapours fell,
Where wily Serpents hissing glare
And the dark Demon of Revenge resides,
At midnight's murky hour
Thy origin began:
Rapacious MALICE was thy sire;
Thy Dam the sullen witch, Despair;
Thy Nurse, insatiate Ire.
The FATES conspir'd their ills to twine,
About thy heart's infected shrine;
They gave thee each disastrous spell,
Each desolating pow'r,
To blast the fairest hopes of man.

Soon as thy fatal birth was known,
From her unhallow'd throne
With ghastly smile pale Hecate sprung;
Thy hideous form the Sorc'ress press'd
With kindred fondness to her breast;
Her haggard eye
Short forth a ray of transient joy,
Whilst thro' th' infernal shades exulting clamours rung.

Above thy fellow fiends thy tyrant hand
Grasp'd with resistless force supreme command:
The dread terrific crowd
Before thy iron sceptre bow'd.
Now, seated in thy ebon cave,
Around thy throne relentless furies rave:
A wreath of ever-wounding thorn
Thy scowling brows encompass round,
Thy heart by knawing Vultures torn,
Thy meagre limbs with deathless scorpions bound.
Thy black associates, torpid IGNORANCE,
And pining JEALOUSY­with eye askance,
With savage rapture execute thy will,
And strew the paths of life with every torturing ill

Nor can the sainted dead escape thy rage;
Thy vengeance haunts the silent grave,
Thy taunts insult the ashes of the brave;
While proud AMBITION weeps thy rancour to assuage.
The laurels round the POET's bust,
Twin'd by the liberal hand of Taste,
By thy malignant grasp defac'd,
Fade to their native dust:
Thy ever-watchful eye no labour tires,
Beneath thy venom'd touch the angel TRUTH expires.

When in thy petrifying car
Thy scaly dragons waft thy form,
Then, swifter, deadlier far
Than the keen lightning's lance,
That wings its way across the yelling storm,
Thy barbed shafts fly whizzing round,
While every with'ring glance
Inflicts a cureless wound.

Thy giant arm with pond'rous blow
Hurls genius from her glorious height,
Bends the fair front of Virtue low,
And meanly pilfers every pure delight.
Thy hollow voice the sense appalls,
Thy vigilance the mind enthralls;
Rest hast thou none,­by night, by day,
Thy jealous ardour seeks for prey­
Nought can restrain thy swift career;
Thy smile derides the suff'rer's wrongs;
Thy tongue the sland'rers tale prolongs;
Thy thirst imbibes the victim's tear;
Thy breast recoils from friendship's flame;
Sick'ning thou hear'st the trump of Fame;
Worth gives to thee, the direst pang;
The Lover's rapture wounds thy heart,
The proudest efforts of prolific art
Shrink from thy poisonous fang.

In vain the Sculptor's lab'ring hand
Calls fine proportion from the Parian stone;
In vain the Minstrel's chords command
The soft vibrations of seraphic tone;
For swift thy violating arm
Tears from perfection ev'ry charm;
Nor rosy YOUTH, nor BEAUTY's smiles
Thy unrelenting rage beguiles,
Thy breath contaminates the fairest name,
And binds the guiltless brow with ever-blist'ring shame.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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