[Page [13]]


Ah scenes belov'd in vain,
I feel the gales that from you blow.
A momentary bliss bestow,
As waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to smooth,
And redolent of joy and youth,
To breathe a second spring.
1 THAT fortune's fickle, beauty frail,
2 Has been the theme of many a tale,
3 And solemn bards, with soaring eye,
4 Have traced our passage to the sky.
5 That earthly honours quickly pass,
6 That life's a dream, and flesh is grass,
7 Are truths the preacher would impart,
8 In melting lessons to the heart,
9 And, if on beauty, wealth, or fame,
10 You dare to build a haughty claim,
11 The moralist again would try,
12 To wean your hearts from vanity.
[Page 14]
13 Attend, ye beauties of a day,
14 For you I dress my moral lay,
15 You, who to wealth or fame aspire,
16 For you I tune my willing lyre.
17 There lived a maid, Eliza named,
18 Who was for nothing very famed,
19 With beauty she was never blest,
20 And this her sex can well attest,
21 To fortune she as little owed,
22 A circumstance well understood,
23 All her pretensions, all her aim,
24 Was to deserve an honest name;
25 With modesty to live retired,
26 And leave the gay to be admired,
27 A shepherd, skill'd in flattery's lore,
28 However, sent some verses to her,
29 He prais'd her for ideal graces,
30 And wrong he was in many places,
31 Tho' wrong, she knew he meant no evil,
32 And thought he was exceeding civil,
33 She told him, as in duty bound,
34 She wish'd he were with laurel crown'd;
35 A nymph there was of lovely mien,
36 Who lived at that time on the green,
37 No fitter subject for his muse,
38 The poet sure could ever chuse;
[Page 15]
39 And ready for his similies,
40 The earth and sky before him lies;
41 To him the garden yields its pride,
42 The mine its treasures cannot hide,
43 And little brooks, and mighty seas,
44 He pilfers with the greatest ease,
45 Oh! for the magic of his art,
46 To sooth the weakness of the heart;
47 And on the sunbeam of an eye,
48 To rise to immortality;
49 My humbler muse, alone must tell,
50 I knew the nymph and lov'd her well,
51 Much merit she might justly claim,
52 And Hannah was the fair one's name;
53 As cheerfully they pass'd the day,
54 Together oft these nymphs would stray,
55 And once a laurel they espy'd,
56 Which rais'd its head with conscious pride;
57 The tree a little garden graced,
58 And by a lowly cot was placed,
59 They pitied that Apollo's care,
60 Should waste its classic honours there,
61 The thought to flattering Colin led,
62 How much its leaves would grace his head,
63 Equally pleas'd with the intent,
64 They instant to the cottage went,
65 The dame, for whom the laurel grew,
66 No Daphne or Apollo knew,
[Page 16]
67 The ladies spoke her very fair,
68 Told her they saw a laurel there,
69 If she could such a favor grant,
70 Some of it's leaves they soon should want;
71 The dame replied, they were too good,
72 On such a trifle to have stood,
73 But near the road, and low the wall,
74 They might, for her, have ta'en them all;
75 It was a tree she had no good in,
76 Except indeed to mend a pudding,
77 And then in winter it was green,
78 A time one valued such a thing,
79 But they were welcome to a part,
80 Of her tree's leaves, with all her heart.
81 With skilful hands, fair Hannah weaves,
82 Apollo's consecrated leaves,
83 Nor e'er before or since was seen,
84 So gay a garland on that green,
85 Its waving circles gaily play'd,
86 To crown the favour'd poet's head.
87 A sylph, who trod the rural scene,
88 In haste convey'd it o'er the green;
89 The yielding doors soon open flew,
90 And full she shone on Colin's view;
91 He hail'd her as a nymph divine,
92 She him a favourite of the Nine,
93 The prize of wit she then display'd,
94 Wishing to see it on his head.
[Page 17]
95 His head his dinner scarce begun,
96 On honour less than eating run,
97 It is a truth the shepherd owns,
98 He thought of salads more than crowns:
99 But such a slight soon to repair,
100 He view'd it with attentive care,
101 And on its leaves he found a note,
102 Which simply thus the ladies wrote.
103 'Let gold and gems, a pond'rous weight,
104 'Surround the care-worn brow of state,
105 'And may the mournful yew be spread,
106 'O'er the cold ashes of the dead.
107 'While the gay rose and myrtle twin'd,
108 'The happy lover's temples bind.
109 'But may the head of sad despair,
110 'A wreathe of drooping willow wear.
111 'While still at friendship's sacred shrine,
112 'The vine should round the elm entwine.
113 'But when a poet we have found,
114 'With laurel shall the bard be crown'd.'
115 'Twas with surprize the damsels learn'd,
116 The shepherd had the crown return'd.
117 He said Eliza ought to wear it,
118 Nor would he e'en pretend to share it.
119 Well pleas'd she kept the gilded crown,
120 By flattery more beauteous grown.
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121 A vision now I introduce,
122 Is aught denied the poet's use?
123 But ladies, that it need not fright,
124 It is no imp that shuns the light,
125 Or haunts the mansions of the dead,
126 From them it is for ever fled,
127 Its being rose when earth began,
128 And ends but with the race of man;
129 Its silent path was swiftly trod,
130 And many victims strew'd its road,
131 Its hands a scythe and hourglass bore,
132 To mark its progress and its pow'r,
133 It touch'd the crown, which own'd its stroke,
134 While thus to reason's ear it spoke.
135 'A boundless conqueror am I,
136 'Nor boast of partial victory;
137 'I take this trifling toy from you,
138 'And mighty empires I subdue.
139 Her faded crown Eliza view'd,
140 And thus the moral thought pursued
141 Faded trifle, passing jest,
142 Mimic pageant of a day,
143 No more for laurels we'll contest,
144 Prizes which time shall bear away.


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Title (in Source Edition): THE LAUREL.
Author: Eliza Day
Genres: tale

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Daye, Eliza, b. ca. 1734. Poems, on Various Subjects. Liverpool: Printed by J. M'Creery, 1798, pp. [13]-18. [2],x,[4],258p.; 8° (ESTC T132359) (Page images digitized by University of California Libraries.)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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