Sunday, 23 June 2013

"Maternal Love Triumphant, or, Song of the Virtuous Female Spider" by Ruth Pitter

Time was I had a tender heart,
But time hath proved its foe;
That tenderness did all depart,
And it is better so;
For it tender did remain
How could I play my part,
That must so many young sustain?
Farewell the tender heart!

A swain had I, a loving swain,
A spider neat and trim,
Who used no little careful pain
To make me dote on him.
The fairest flies he brought to me,
At first I showed disdain;
For lofty we must ever be
To fix a loving swain.

But soon I bowed to nature's ends
And soon did wed my dear,
For all at last to nature bends;
So in a corner near
We fixed our web, and thought that love
For toil would make amends;
For so all creatures hope to prove
Who bow to nature's ends.

Ere long the sorry scrawny flies
For me could not suffice,
So I prepared with streaming eyes
My love to sacrifice.
I ate him, and could not but feel
That I had been most wise;
An hopeful mother needs a meal
Of better meat than flies.

My eggs I laid, and soon my young
Did from the same creep out:
Like little cupids there they hung
Or trundled round about;
And when alarmed, like a soft ball
They all together clung;
Ah mothers! We are paid for all,
Who watch our pretty young.

For their sweet sake I do pursue
And slay whate'er I see;
Nothing's too much for me to do
To feed my progeny;
They'll do the same for me some day -
(Did someone say Says You?)
So still I leap upon the prey
And everything pursue.

Two bluebottles that loved so dear
Fell in my web together;
They prayed full fast and wept for fear,
But I cared not a feather;
Food I must have, and plenty too,
That would my darlings rear,
So, thanking heaven, I killed and slew
The pair that loved so dear.

But most do I delight to kill
Those pretty silly things
That do themselves with nectar fill
And wag their painted wings;
For I above all folly hate
That vain and wasted skill
Which idle flowers would emulate
And so the fools I kill.

Confess I may some virtue claim,
For all that I desire
Is first an honest matron's name,
Than which there is none higher;
And then my pretty children's good -
A wish that bears no blame;
These in my lonely widowhood
As virtues I may claim.

I look not here for my reward,
But recompense shall come
When from this toilsome life and hard
I seek a heavenly home;
Where in the mansions of the blest,
By earthly ills unmarred,
I'll meet again my Love, my best
And sole desired reward.

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