A man who had no rivals in the love
He bore himself, thought that he won the bell
From all the world, and hated every glass
That truths less palatable tried to tell.
Living contented in the error,
Of lying mirrors he′d a terror.
Officious Fate, determined on a cure,
Raised up, where′er he turned his eyes,
Those silent counsellors that ladies prize.
Mirrors old and mirrors newer;
Mirrors in inns and mirrors in shops;
Mirrors in pockets of all the fops;
Mirrors in every lady′s zone.
What could our poor Narcissus do?
He goes and hides him all alone
In woods that one can scarce get through.
No more the lying mirrors come,
But past his new-found savage home
A pure and limpid brook runs fair.—
He looks. His ancient foe is there!
His angry eyes stare at the stream,
He tries to fancy it a dream.
Resolves to fly the odious place, and shun
The image; yet, so fair the brook, he cannot run.
My meaning is not hard to see;
No one is from this failing free.
The man who loved himself is just the Soul,
The mirrors are the follies of all others.
(Mirrors are faithful painters on the whole;)
And you know well as I do, brothers, that the brook
Is the wise "Maxim-book."