LAURA: OR, THE COMPLAINT.
1 YE groves, with venerable moss array'd,
2 That o'er yon caverns stretch your pendent shade,
3 Where sacred Silence lulls the rural vale,
4 And Love in whispers tells his tender tale,
5 Ye lonely rocks, ye streams that ever flow,
6 Still as my tears, and constant as my woe,
7 To you behold the wretched Laura flies,
8 And haunts those seats from whence her sorrows rise;
9 Where, lost to love, how often has she stray'd?
10 When the fond lover led his blushing maid,
11 When his soft lips, too eloquent his art,
12 Pour'd the warm wish, and breath'd out all his heart.
13 Ah once lov'd seats, your pleasing scenes are o'er,
14 Nor you can charm, since he can love no more;
15 Tho' smile your lawns with vernal glories crown'd,
16 In vain gay Nature paints th' enamel'd ground;[Page 299]
17 While through your solitary paths I rove,
18 A prey to grief, to sickness, and to love.
19 Tho' gentle Zephyrs fan the bending bowers,
20 Tho' breathes the incense of your opening flowers,
21 Nor opening flowers, nor gentle Zephyrs charm,
22 Nor beauteous scenes a grief like mine disarm;
23 Fade every flower, and languish every sense,
24 Ye have no sweets for fallen innocence.
25 Torn by remorse, sad victim of Despair,
26 Where shall I turn? or where address my prayer?
27 Far as the morn its early beam displays,
28 Or where the star of evening darts its rays;
29 Far as wide earth is stretch'd, or oceans roll,
30 Where blow the winds, or heaven invests the pole,
31 In vain my fluttering soul would wing its way;
32 Stern Care pursues, where'er the wretched stray.
33 Sost God of Sleep, whose ever-peaceful reign
34 Lulls earth, and heaven, and all the extended main,
35 Powerful to give the labouring heart to rest,
36 To wipe the tear, and heal the wounded breast,
37 Say, by what crime offended, slies from me,
38 Invok'd, thy unpropitious Deity?
39 Or dooms, on racks of wildest Fancy torn,
40 In dreams my agonizing soul to mourn?
41 Why am I oft on angry billows tost,
42 Now in some wide and dreary desart lost?
43 Why yet in life infernal tortures feel,
44 Bound by fierce demons to some rapid wheel? [Page 300]
45 Now seem to climb, while hills on hills arife,
46 In vain: or fall in tempests from the skies,
47 Tread burning plains, or swim in seas of fire,
48 Just reach the shore, then see the shore retire?
49 As oft, dear youth! thy pleasing form appears;
50 I stretch my arms, and wake dissolv'd in tears;
51 Yet waking Fancy all that loss supplies,
52 And still I view thee with a lover's eyes;
53 Entranc'd, in thought, o'er all thy charms I gaze,
54 See thy bright eyes diffuse their softest rays,
55 Hang on thy hand, and on thy breast reclin'd,
56 Play with thy locks that waver with the wind,
57 Joy in thy joy, or in thy sorrows join,
58 And on thy lips my spirit mix with thine.
59 Now o'er dark wilds, or rugged rocks we stray,
60 Love lights the gloom, and smooths the dreary way;
61 Now on soft banks our weary limbs repose,
62 Where every flower of vernal beauty glows;
63 But light as air each pleasing vision flew,
64 Swift as the fun dispels the morning dew;
65 While with the day returns the sense of woe,
66 We wake more wretched when the cheat we know.
67 Imagination! mistress of the soul,
68 What powers unseen the active mind controul?
69 And fill the waking thought, or busy sleep?
70 When not a breeze disturbs the tranquil deep,
71 Nor lofty pines through all the forest move,
72 Why stir the motions of resistless love?
73 Urg'd by the golden morn, the night recedes,
74 And year to year in changeful course succeeds;
75 Nor night, nor morn, nor years to me restore
76 The peace which Laura's heart possess'd before;
77 Involv'd in clouds one darksome scene I view;
78 Bleed the same wounds, and all my pains renew.
79 O boast of Laura's long-forgotten praise!
80 Past are the triumphs of my happier days,
81 When plac'd supreme on Beauty's radiant throne,
82 I saw with conscious pride each heart my own;
83 Where'er I turn'd, a thousand nymphs admir'd;
84 Whene'er I smil'd, a thousand swains expir'd:
85 I spoke, 'twas music dwelt upon my tongue;
86 I mov'd a goddess, and an angel sung.
87 My careless steps in joys were taught to rove;
88 Each voice was flattery, and each look was love;
89 But Beauty's power, too mighty long to last,
90 Fled on the wings of rapid Time is past.
91 As some proud vessel to the prosperous gale
92 Her streamer waves, and spreads the silken sail,
93 While silver oars to flutes soft breathing sweep
94 With measur'd strokes the scarcely heaving deep,
95 But soon tempestuous clouds the scene deform,
96 And the loud surge remurmurs to the storm;
97 Thus big with hope, from dark suspicion free,
98 I sail'd with transport on Life's summer sea;
99 The gay attendants of my happy state,
100 The Smiles, the Graces round were seen to wait,[Page 302]
101 And all the moments, as they swiftly flew,
102 Shower'd down soft joys, and pleasures ever new.
103 How chang'd this fleeting image of a day?
104 How sets in awful gloom the evening ray?
105 While, fixt on earth her eye in sad suspence,
106 Pours the deep sigh incessant Penitence.
107 If youthful charms decay with age or pain,
108 Beauty, thy crouded worshippers how vain!
109 Why then such crowds of incense round ascend?
110 Why prostrate monarchs at thy altars bend?
111 Why earth's and ocean's mighty bounds explore
112 At once to win thee, and increase thy power?
113 Let sad example Reason's dictates aid;
114 Here see what ruin Grief and Love have made;
115 Even Love, who lives by Beauty's smiles carest,
116 Basks in her eyes, and wantons on her breast,
117 With cruel force the fatal shaft employs,
118 And soonest what he most adores destroys.
119 How cold I feel Life's idle current flow,
120 Where once the dancing spirits lov'd to glow!
121 No more these eyes with youthful rapture shine,
122 Nor cheeks soft blushing speak a warmth divine;
123 Graceful no more amid the festive dance
124 My steps with easy dignity advance,
125 And all the glossy locks, whose ringlets spread,
126 O'er my fair neck, the honours of my head,
127 Cease the neat labours of my hand to know;
128 Ill suits the care of elegance with woe!
129 Why did not Nature, when she gave to charm,
130 With unrelenting pride my bosom arm?
131 Why was my soul its tender pity taught,
132 Each soft affection, and each generous thought?
133 Hence spring my sorrows, hence with sighs I prove
134 How feeble woman, and how fierce is love.
135 In unavailing streams my tears are shed;
136 Sad Laura's bliss is with Lorenzo fled.
137 For thee, false youth, was every joy resign'd,
138 Young health, sweet peace, and innocence of mind;
139 Are these the constant vows thy tongue profest,
140 When first thy arms my yielding beauties prest?
141 Thus did thy kiss dispel my empty fears,
142 Or winning voice delight my raptur'd ears;
143 Thus swore thy lips, by ocean, earth, and sky;
144 By hell's dread powers, and heaven's all-piercing eye?
145 Yawns not the grave for thee? Why sleeps the storm
146 To blast thy limbs, and rend thy perjur'd form?
147 Unmov'd, O faithless, canst thou hear my pain,
148 Like the proud rocks which brave th' unwearied main?
149 Sooner the ship-wreck'd pilot shall appease
150 With sighs the howling winds, with tears the seas,
151 Than Laura's prayers thy heart unfeeling move,
152 O lost to fame, to honour, and to love.
153 Nurst in dark caverns on some mountain wild
154 To cruel manhood grew the daring child,
155 No female breast supplied thy infant food,
156 But tygers growling o'er their savage brood. [Page 304]
157 Curs'd be that fatal hour thy charms were seen,
158 While yet this mind was guiltless, and serene.
159 With thee, false man, I urg'd my hasty flight,
160 And dar'd the horrors of tempestuous night,
161 Nor fear'd with thee through plains unknown to rove,
162 Deaf to the dictates of paternal love.
163 In vain for me a parent's tears were shed,
164 And to the grave descends his hoary head.
165 When at my feet entranc'd my lover lay,
166 And pour'd in tender sighs his soul away,
167 Fond, foolish heart! to think the tale divine;
168 Why started not my hands when prest in thine?
169 Too well Remembrance paints the fatal hour
170 When Love, great conqueror, summon'd all his power;
171 When bolder grown, your glances flash'd with fire,
172 And your pale lips all trembled with desire;
173 Back to my heart my blood tumultuous flew,
174 From every pore distill'd the chilling dew,
175 When Shame presaging spoke each future pain,
176 And struggling Virtue arm'd my soul in vain.
177 But O let silence all my weakness veil,
178 And burning blushes only tell the tale.
179 Ah! faithless man! and thou more wretched maid,
180 To guilt, and grief, and misery betray'd!
181 Far flies thy lover: to some distant plain
182 Now cleaves his bounding bark the peaceful main;
183 Avenging heaven, that heard the vows he swore,
184 Bid howl the blackening storm, and thunder roar. [Page 305]
185 'Till waves on waves in tumbling mountains roll,
186 Now sink to hell, and now ascend the pole;
187 Then on some plank o'er foaming billows borne,
188 Trembling, his perjur'd faith the wretch shall mourn,
189 But mourn in vain: his vigorous arm shall fail,
190 Guilt sink him down, and angry heaven prevail;
191 No friendly hand to earth his limbs convey,
192 But dogs and vultures tear the bloated prey.
193 Yet, ah! fond heart! avert, kind heaven, the stroke,
194 My heart denies what trembling lips have spoke.
195 The varying accents real nature prove,
196 And only shew how wild a thing is love.
197 Go, much lov'd youth, with every blessing crown'd,
198 And Laura's wishes ever guard thee round.
199 Me to the silent shades and sad retreat,
200 Where love's expiring flames forget their heat,
201 Death wooes all-powerful: ere he parts the clew,
202 Once more thy Laura bids her love adieu:
203 Bids health and affluence every bliss afford,
204 Bids thee be lov'd, be happy, and ador'd;
205 In ease, in mirth, glide each glad hour away;
206 No pain to spot thy Fortune's cloudless day;
207 Nor sigh to swell, no tear to flow for me:
208 O grant, heaven, all; but grant thee constancy.
209 Yet from my hand this last address receive,
210 This last address is all that hand can give.
211 In vain thy bark with spreading canvas flies,
212 If these sad lines shall meet thy conscious eyes,[Page 306]
213 And, taught with winning eloquence to move,
214 The winds and waters waft the voice of love;
215 That voice, O grant what dying lips implore,
216 Asks but one tear from thee; and asks no more.
217 Then world, farewel; farewel life's fond desires,
218 False flattering hopes, and love's tormenting fires.
219 Already, Death, before my closing eyes
220 Thy airy forms and glimmering shades arise.
221 Hark! hear I not for me yon' passing bell
222 Toll forth, with frequent pause, its sullen knell?
223 Waits not for me yon' sexton on his spade,
224 Blythe whistling o'er the grave his toil has made?
225 Say, why in lengthened pomp yon' sable train,
226 With measur'd steps, slow, stalk along the plain?
227 Say, why yon' hearse with fading flowers is crown'd,
228 And midnight gales the deep-mouth'd dirge resound?
229 Hail, sister worms, and thou my kindred dust,
230 Secure to you my weary limbs I trust.
231 Dim burns life's lamp; O Death, thy work compleat,
232 And give my soul to gain her last retreat.
233 Such as before the birth of Nature sway'd,
234 Ere springing light the first great word obey'd,
235 Let silence reign — come, Fate, exert thy might;
236 And darkness wrap me in eternal night.