Is it the beauty of the flower,
Its honeyed sweets or fragrant power,
That first attracts the bee?
The blossom that our eye enchants,
He passes by for other plants,
Whose flowers we do not see.
I've seen the rose, delighted, glow,
And all its pow'rful essence throw
T' attract the wary thief;
But he pass'd on to whither grew
A flaunting poppy, gay of hue,
And lit upon its leaf.
A lily, queen of summer's shade,
With gems of purest pearl array'd,
In virgin lustre bright,
Bent low, and showed its cups were fill'd
With choicest sweets, from dews distill'd,
Alone for his delight.
But still the rambler came not near:
The rose's sigh, the lily's tear--
Were shed alike in vain;
Long hung he on a tulip's breast,
Enamour'd of its showy vest,
Ere he took flight again.
Then, as if wild with sportive bliss,
The fairest flow'rs he scarce would kiss,
Gay--wand'ring on the wing;
Or, swiftly sailing on the breeze,
From of the tops of nect'rine trees,
His honey'd stores would bring.
Away, away, at early morn,
A hunter keen, with sounding horn,
He'd seek th' sumptuous fare;
Off to the plains, and forest set,
And oh! how he would fume and fret,
If finding nothing there!
Sometimes I've seen him overhead,
As if by cloud, or sunbeam fed,
A denizen of air;
But in a moment down he'd come,
And I should hear his pleasant hum
about my gay parterre.
His sombre suit of dingy rust
Was powdered o'er with yellow dust;
His feet with travel stained;
His thighs were plated o'er with gold,
And scrip as full as it could hold
Of treasure he had gained.
No idle, vain, voluptuous life,
Nor one of useless toil and strife,
The busy creature led;
Active, loyal, clever, brave,
A patriot free, not crouching slave,
He earned his daily bread.
The insect seemed as much to love
The sunny plain as shady grove;
The weed, as fragrant flower;
The riches that the miner sought,
Were Nature's wealth, and instinct taught
Were found in field and bower.
Oh, wondrous ordinance of fate!
No fond emotions animate,
Nor can his breast inspire;
Unloving and unloved he lives,
And all he wins, and all he gives,
Are wages but of hire!