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Anna Jane Vardill

Wit and Reason

And now shall I tell you how Poets have said,
Plain Sense prospers best by no Genius led!
The tale may be old, but the moral is clear,
And those who have both, will be pleased with it here.

Wit once was a Traveller, and wonder’d, they say,
To find on a sudden a brook in his way;
While grave Common Sense with his staff in his hand
First measured how far he was off the dry land.

Wit look’d at the stars, and gave thanks for their light—
Plain Reason sought fuel to warm them all night:
Wit gather’d the sweetbriars dropping fresh dew,
But Reason chose dry wood his fire to renew.

“How wide is this brook?—Shall we cross it or no?”
“There’s no bridge,” replied Reason, “above or below.”—
Joy’s light flowery wand for a plank was unfit,
So away swam the sprigs, and the garlands of Wit.

But Reason sat down; as in legends we’re told
A wise Basket-facturer once did of old;
And plaiting and twisting the slenderest sprays,
Soon wrought a bridge worthy an architect’s praise.

Though hurricanes blew, and the flood rush’d along,
The light pliant wicker work ever proved strong;
And no bridge over life can so well bear the weather
As Fancy’s light joys knit by Reason together.


The European Magazine, Vol. 80, August 1821, p. 144