The nymph must lose her female friend,
If more admired than she—
But where will fierce contention end,
If flowers can disagree?
Within the garden’s peaceful scene
Appear’d two lovely foes,
Aspiring to the rank of queen,
The Lily and the Rose.
The Rose soon redden’d into rage,
And, swelling with disdain,
Appeal’d to many a poet’s page
To prove her right to reign.
The Lily’s height bespoke command,
A fair imperial flower;
She seem’d design’d for Flora’s hand,
The sceptre of her power.
This civil bickering and debate
The goddess chanced to hear,
And flew to save, ere yet too late,
The pride of the parterre.
Yours is, she said, the nobler hue,
And yours the statelier mien;
And, till a third surpasses you,
Let each be deem’d a queen.
Thus soothed and reconciled, each seeks
The fairest British fair;
The seat of empire is her cheeks,
They reign united there.