Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VERSES WRITTEN IN THE LEAVES OF AN IVORY POCKET-BOOK, by ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD



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VERSES WRITTEN IN THE LEAVES OF AN IVORY POCKET-BOOK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Accept, my dear, this toy, and let me say
Last Line: And all your praise is but -- to copy well.
Alternate Author Name(s): Aikin, Anna Letitia
Subject(s): Gifts & Giving; Youth; Learning


Accept, my dear, this toy, and let me say,
The leaves an emblem of your mind display --
Your youthful mind, uncoloured, fair, and white,
Like crystal leaves, transparent to the sight,
Fit each impression to receive, whate'er
The pencil of instruction traces there.
O then transcribe into the shining page
Each virtue that adorns your tender age;
And grave upon the tablet of your heart
Each lofty science, and each useful art!

But with the likeness, mark the difference well;
Nor think complete the hasty parallel.
The leaves by folly scrawl'd, or foul with stains,
A drop of water clears with little pains;
But from a blotted mind the smallest trace
Not seas of bitter tears can e'er efface --
The spreading mark for ever shall remain,
And rolling years but deepen every stain.

Once more a difference let me still explain:
The vacant leaves thus ever will remain,
Till some officious hand the tablet fill
With sense or nonsense, prose or rhyme, at will.
Not so your mind without your forming care;
Nature forbids an idle vacuum there:
Folly will plant her tares without your toil,
And weeds spring up in the neglected soil.

But why to you this moralizing strain?
Vain is the precept, and the caution vain --
To you, whose opening virtues bloom so fair,
And well reward the prudent planter's care --
As some young tree, by generous juices fed,
Above its fellows lifts its branching head,
Whose proud aspiring shoots incessant rise,
And every day grow nearer to the skies.

Yet should kind Heaven your opening mind adorn,
And bless your noon of knowledge as your morn --
Yet were your mind with every science blest,
And every virtue glowing in your breast --
With learning meekness, and with candour zeal,
Clear to discern, and generous to feel --
Yet should the graces o'er your breast diffuse
The softer influence of the polish'd muse --
'Tis no original, the world can tell,
And all your praise is but -- to copy well.





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