Weave on, poor insect! weave on still,
Thy shining thread of matchless skill!
The thought to take thy life is fled,
Or thou, vile worm, would'st now be dead!
A moment more and thou hadst been
No longer there to toil and spin;
Thy bloated form and sprawling limb,
I should have crushed, but thoughts of Him
Who made thee--gave thee such powers--
(Ay, more sagacious far than ours),
Furnished thee with such num'rous eyes
To see, all ways, the vagrant flies;
Fixed in thy nature instinct's law,
To trap the creatures for thy maw;
To wait and watch, to twist and twine
A thousand threads to make a line;
With science mathematical,
To form thy web symmetrical;
Taught thee to weave and to display
Thy fragile net to catch thy prey;
A tissue, though surpassing fair,
Yet both a winding-sheet and snare;
Now clinging to the leafy tree;
Now smothering a captured bee;
Now spreading o'er the blossoms fair,
A canopy of gossamer;
Or, like the sunbeam's shining mote,
Alone, upon the air afloat;
Despite the pangs of hunger keen,
To lurk in ambush, or if seen,
Counterfeit death thy plot to screen,
And then, with sudden leap to spring,
And seize the quarry on the wing,
Speeding along the tangled shroud,
Swift as lightning o'er the cloud,
With perseverance, brave and shrewd,
Hunting thy game in solitude!
Such thoughts as these impelled me stay
The hand that was outstretched to slay,
While conscience whispered, "Let it live,
Nor take the life thou could'st not give!"
How oft, when dewy morn has flung
With lavish hand her gems among
The new-blown flowers, which grateful threw
In sweet return their odours new--
And light has left the drowsy east--
To gladden earth's benighted breast--
How oft I've seen from blade to blade
Of verdant grass, thy section laid;
So delicately wove--so clear,
That Art's rich stuffs would scarcely bear
With its soft texture to compare. Her works from Reason's dictates come, Thine Nature's web, thyself the loom!
Then live dissembler! live on still!
Mine's not the heart that loves to kill;
I feel, like thine, life's thread is weak;
Like thine, at ev'ry breeze may break;
I feel that I to God must be
The ugly worm thou seem'st to me!
And though I boast of mind and soul,
Immortal gifts, supreme 'bove all!
Yet in that hour when I am tried,
And all vain masks are laid aside--
When I shall stand in trembling fear,
To answer for the deeds done here-- Then shall I wish my works had been
As pure as thine! as free from sin!