ODE TO THE Right Honourable the Lady ****, ON THE DEATH OF HER SON.
1 WHILE you 'mid spring's gay months deplore,
2 Till lessening Grief's exhausted store,
3 By Time subsiding fail;
4 The Muse, Affliction's constant friend,
5 With social woe shall still attend,
6 If aught her aid avail.
7 'Tis hers in life's most ruffled scene
8 To smooth Misfortune's angry mien,
9 And watch each rising sigh:
10 'Tis hers to bid the Guilty fear,
11 To wipe the virtuous starting tear
12 That swells in Sorrow's eye.
13 'Mid simple Scythian's dreary land
14 Her gentle, sweet, assuasive hand
15 Could give sad Ovid rest;
16 She still in mournful numbers pleas'd,
17 With her the hapless exile eas'd
18 His sadly plaintive breast.
19 For thee she still shall seek the plain,
20 Where Severn leads his dusky train,
21 Or Wey's smooth waters roll;
22 Her power could blunt Affliction's dart,
23 And fondly sooth the keener smart
24 Of Sappho's love-sick soul.
25 On you propitious she bestows
26 A mind too chaste for Sappho's woes,
27 Unstain'd by wild desire;
28 She Sappho's charms in you supplies,
29 To me the partial power denies
30 The Lesbian's purer fire.
31 Did bounteous heaven, profusely kind,
32 To frame the favourite infant mind
33 Its fondest care employ;
34 How idle yet the hopes you raise
35 In planning of his future days,
36 How vain each fancy'd joy!
37 Had Fate prolong'd th' uncertain flame,
38 Nor from the weak enfeebled frame
39 Had life's fleet vision past;
40 Who knows but angry heaven had still
41 With every baleful bitter ill
42 Each future day o'ercast!
43 Since awful Prudence ne'er appears,
44 Till calmer thoughts and milder years
45 Each lawless wish assuage;
46 A fruit unknown to summer's heat,
47 That buds alone in life's retreat,
48 And only blooms in age.
49 'Mid Solitude's sequester'd joy
50 May no rude cares thy peace destroy
51 By sure Remembrance brought:
52 Nor e'er from Grief's abundant source
53 May dark Reflection's secret force
54 Recall one aching thought.
55 Oft as to each regardless wind
56 With simple notes the village-hind
57 Attunes his love-lorn reed,
58 When Night her dewy curtain spreads,
59 And Cynthia silver glimmerings sheds
60 O'er thicket, vale, and mead.
61 Thou too, beneath the moon's pale gleams,
62 Shall haunt those glades, where fairy streams
63 To Sorrow's softness flow;
64 Where Love and Grief alone have trod,
65 Where bending willows seem to nod
66 With sympathetic woe.
67 Wan Melancholy 'mid the storm
68 Shall rear her meek dejected form,
69 In sable vest array'd;
70 While sullen Silence reigns around,
71 Her voice in slow and solemn sound
72 Shall whisper thro' the shade:
73 "Stranger, draw near! — To Sorrow true
74 " With me these lonesome walks review,
75 "Where Horror's charms invite;
76 " Daughter of Joy! — I know thy air!
77 "Retract thy hurry'd steps! — nor dare
78 " Profane each hallow'd rite!
79 "To mix with Mirth's mad train be thine:
80 " The dismal drearier task be mine
81 "'Mid these lorn scenes to weep!
82 " My days in these still bowers immur'd,
83 "By no false flattering hopes allur'd,
84 " Shall one sad tenor keep.
85 "Let Grief no more thy youth consume,
86 " Nor sighing o'er the silent tomb
87 "Thy piteous murmurs breathe.
88 " Reject the gloomy cypress bough,
89 "Each airy form to grace thy brow
90 " Shall twine the festive wreath.
91 "The Infant Shade, where-e'er you rove,
92 " Shall faithful to that sacred grove
93 "With sure return appear;
94 " Nor e'er his filial love shall cease,
95 "He still with soothing sounds of peace
96 " Shall charm thy listening ear.
97 "At morn, when deep sepulcral caves,
98 " When opening vaults, and yawning graves
99 "Their wandering dead recall;
100 " He ne'er shall quit that sainted place
101 "Till lingering in thy fond embrace
102 " The shadowy tear shall fall.
103 "May'st thou, 'mid Pleasure's sons rejoice,
104 " Each Muse shall with according voice
105 "Confirm the pleasing tale."
106 This said — the melting Maid of Woe
107 Shall cease — and o'er her charms shall throw
108 The thin translucent veil.
109 The time shall come, when Fancy's power
110 To each slow-sorrowing pensive hour
111 Shall gladly bring relief;
112 When every care shall die away,
113 And wakeful Memory's gentler sway
114 Dissolve the reign of Grief.
115 Thus, by the painter's just design,
116 From each judicious happy line
117 The colours bloom or fade;
118 Elude the nice observer's sight,
119 By soft gradations dawn to light,
120 Or languish into shade.