MONODY TO THE MEMORY OF A YOUNG LADY.
1 YET do I live! O how shall I sustain
2 This vast unutterable weight of woe?
3 This worse than hunger, poverty, or pain,
4 Or all the complicated ills below —
5 She, in whose life my hopes were treasur'd all,
6 Is gone — for ever fled —
7 My dearest EMMA's dead;
8 These eyes, these tear-swoln eyes beheld her fall:
9 Ah no — she lives on some far happier shore,
10 She lives — but (cruel thought!) she lives for me no more.
11 I, who the tedious absence of a day
12 Remov'd, wou'd languish for my charmer's sight,
13 Wou'd chide the lingering moments for delay,
14 And fondly blame the slow return of night;
15 How, how shall I endure
16 (O misery past a cure!)
17 Hours, days and years successively to roll,
18 Nor ever more behold the comfort of my soul?
19 Was she not all my fondest wish could frame?
20 Did ever Mind so much of Heaven partake?
21 Did she not love me with the purest flame,
22 And give up friends and fortune for my sake?
23 Though mild as evening skies,
24 With downcast, streaming eyes,
25 Stood the stern frown of supercilious brows,
26 Deaf to their brutal threats, and faithful to her vows.
27 Come, then, some Muse, the saddest of the train,
28 (No more your bard shall dwell on idle lays)
29 Teach me each moving melancholy strain,
30 And O discard the pageantry of phrase:
31 Ill suit the flowers of speech with woes like mine!
32 Thus, haply, as I paint
33 The source of my complaint,
34 My soul may own the impassion'd line;
35 A flood of tears may gush to my relief,
36 And from my swelling heart discharge this load of grief.
37 Forbear, my fond officious friends, forbear
38 To wound my ears with the sad tales you tell;
39 "How good she was, how gentle, and how fair!"
40 In pity cease — alas! I know too well:
41 How, in her sweet, expressive face
42 Beam'd forth the beauties of her mind,
43 Yet heighten'd by exterior grace
44 Of manners most engaging, most refin'd:[Page 210]
45 No piteous object could she see,
46 But her soft bosom shar'd the woe,
47 Whilst smiles of affability
48 Endear'd whatever boon she might bestow.
49 Whate'er the emotions of her heart,
50 Still shone conspicuous in her eyes,
51 Stranger to every female art,
52 Alike to feign, or to disguise:
53 And O the boast how rare!
54 The secret in her faithful breast repos'd,
55 She ne'er with lawless tongue disclos'd,
56 In sacred silence lodg'd inviolate there.
57 O feeble words — unable to express
58 Her matchless virtues, or my own distress!
59 Relentless Death! that, steel'd to human woe,
60 With murderous hands deals havock on mankind,
61 Why (cruel!) strike this deprecated blow,
62 And leave such wretched multitudes behind!
63 Hark! Groans come wing'd on every breeze!
64 The sons of Grief prefer their ardent vow;
65 Oppress'd with sorrow, want, or dire disease,
66 And supplicate thy aid, as I do now:
67 In vain — Perverse, still on the unweeting head
68 'Tis thine thy vengeful darts to shed;
69 Hope's infant blossoms to destroy,
70 And drench in tears the face of joy. [Page 211]
71 But oh! fell tyrant! yet expect the hour
72 When Virtue shall renounce thy power;
73 When thou no more shalt blot the face of day,
74 Nor mortals tremble at thy rigid sway.
75 Alas! the day — where-e'er I turn my eyes,
76 Some sad memento of my loss appears;
77 I fly the fatal house — suppress my sighs,
78 Resolv'd to dry my unavailing tears:
79 But, ah! In vain — no change of time or place
80 The memory can efface
81 Of all that sweetness, that enchanting air,
82 Now lost; and nought remains but anguish and despair.
83 Where wer the delegates of Heaven, oh where!
84 Appointed Virtue's children safe to keep!
85 Had Innocence or Virtue been their care,
86 She had not dy'd, nor had I liv'd to weep:
87 Mov'd by my tears, and by her patience mov'd,
88 To see her force the endearing smile,
89 My sorrows to beguile,
90 When Torture's keenest rage she prov'd;
91 Sure they had warded that untimely dart,
92 Which broke her thread of life, and rent a husband's heart.
93 How shall I e'er forget that dreadful hour,
94 When feeling Death's resistless power,
95 My hand she press'd, wet with her falling tears,
96 And thus, in faultering accents, spoke her fears! [Page 212]
97 "Ah, my lov'd lord, the transient scene is o'er,
98 " And we must part (alas!) to meet no more!
99 "But oh! if e'er thy EMMA's name was dear,
100 " If e'er thy vows have charm'd my ravish'd ear;
101 "If, from thy lov'd embrace my heart to gain,
102 " Proud friends have frown'd, and Fortune smil'd in vain,
103 "If it has been my sole endeavour, still
104 " To act in all, obsequious to thy will;
105 "To watch thy very smiles, thy wish to know,
106 " Then only truly blest when thou wert so:
107 "If I have doated with that fond excess,
108 " Nor Love could add, nor Fortune make it less;
109 "If this I've done, and more — oh then be kind
110 " To the dear lovely babe I leave behind.
111 "When time my once-lov'd memory shall efface,
112 " Some happier maid may take thy EMMA's place,
113 "With envious eyes thy partial fondness see,
114 " And hate it for the love thou bore to me:
115 "My dearest S—, forgive a woman's fears,
116 " But one word more (I cannot bear thy tears)
117 "Promise — and I will trust thy faithful vow,
118 " (Oft have I try'd, and ever sound thee true)
119 "That to some distant spot thou wilt remove
120 " This fatal pledge of hapless EMMA's love,
121 "Where safe, thy blandishments it may partake,
122 " And oh! be tender for its mother's sake.
123 "Wilt thou? —
124 " I know thou wilt — sad silence speaks assent,
125 "And in that pleasing hope thy EMMA dies content." [Page 213]
126 I, who with more than manly strength have bore
127 The various ills impos'd by cruel Fate,
128 Sustain the firmness of my soul no more,
129 But sink beneath the weight:
130 Just Heaven (I cry'd) from Memory's earliest day
131 No comfort has thy wretched suppliant known,
132 Misfortune still with unrelenting sway
133 Has claim'd me for her own.
134 But O — in pity to my grief, restore
135 This only source of bliss; I ask — I ask no more —
136 Vain hope — th' irrevocable doom is past,
137 Ev'n now she looks — she sighs her last —
138 Vainly I strive to stay her fleeting breath,
139 And, with rebellious heart, protest against her death.
140 When the stern tyrant clos'd her lovely eyes,
141 How did I rave, untaught to bear the blow!
142 With impious wish to tear her from the skies;
143 How curse my fate in bitterness of woe!
144 But whither would this dreadful frenzy lead?
145 Fond man, forbear,
146 Thy fruitless sorrow spare,
147 Dare not to task what Heaven's high will decreed;
148 In humble reverence kiss th' afflictive rod,
149 And prostrate bow to an offended God.
150 Perhaps kind Heaven in mercy dealt the blow,
151 Some saving truth thy roving soul to teach;
152 To wean thy heart from groveling views below,
153 And point out bliss beyond Misfortune's reach:[Page 214]
154 To shew that all the flattering schemes of joy,
155 Which towering Hope so fondly builds in air,
156 One fatal moment can destroy,
157 And plunge th' exulting Maniac in despair.
158 Then O! with pious fortitude sustain
159 Thy present loss — haply, thy future gain;
160 Nor let thy EMMA die in vain;
161 Time shall administer its wonted balm,
162 And hush this storm of grief to no unpleasing calm.
163 Thus the poor bird, by some disastrous fate
164 Caught and imprison'd in a lonely cage,
165 Torn from its native fields, and dearer mate,
166 Flutters awhile, and spends its little rage:
167 But, finding all its efforts weak and vain,
168 No more it pants and rages for the plain;
169 Moping awhile, in sullen mood
170 Droops the sweet mourner — but, ere long,
171 Prunes its light wings, and pecks its food,
172 And meditates the song:
173 Serenely sorrowing, breathes its piteous case,
174 And with its plaintive warblings saddens all the place.
175 Forgive me, Heaven — yet — yet the tears will flow,
176 To think how soon my scene of bliss is past!
177 My budding joys just promising to blow,
178 All nipt and wither'd by one envious blast! [Page 215]
179 My hours, that laughing wont to fleet away,
180 Move heavily along;
181 Where's now the sprightly jest, the jocund song;
182 Time creeps unconscious of delight:
183 How shall I cheat the tedious day?
184 And O — the joyless night!
185 Where shall I rest my weary head?
186 How shall I find repose on a sad widow'd bed?
s Laudanum. Theban drug, the wretch's only aid,
188 To my torn heart its former peace restore;
189 Thy votary wrapp'd in thy Lethean shade,
190 Awhile shall cease his sorrows to deplore:
191 Haply when lock'd in Sleep's embrace,
192 Again I shall behold my EMMA's face;
193 Again with transport hear
194 Her voice soft whispering in my ear;
195 May steal once more a balmy kiss,
196 And taste at least of visionary bliss.
197 But ah! the unwelcome morn's obtruding light
198 Will all my shadowy schemes of bliss depose,
199 Will tear the dear illusion from my sight,
200 And wake me to the sense of all my woes:
201 If to the verdant fields I stray,
202 Alas! what pleasures now can these convey? [Page 216]
203 Her lovely form pursues where-e'er I go,
204 And darkens all the scene with woe.
205 By Nature's lavish bounties chear'd no more,
206 Sorrowing I rove
207 Thro' valley, grot, and grove;
208 Nought can their beauties or my loss restore;
209 No herb, no plant, can medicine my disease,
210 And my sad sighs are borne on every passing breeze.
211 Sickness and sorrow hovering round my bed,
212 Who now with anxious haste shall bring relief,
213 With lenient hand support my drooping head,
214 Asswage my pains, and mitigate my grief?
215 Should worldly business call away,
216 Who now shall in my absence fondly mourn,
217 Count every minute of the loitering day,
218 Impatient for my quick return?
219 Should aught my bosom discompose,
220 Who now with sweet complacent air,
221 Shall smooth the rugged brow of Care,
222 And soften all my woes?
223 Too faithful Memory — Cease, O cease —
224 How shall I e'er regain my peace?
225 (O to forget her) — but how vain each art,
226 Whilst every virtue lives imprinted on my heart.
227 And thou, my little cherub, left behind,
228 To hear a father's plaints, to share his woes,
229 When Reason's dawn informs thy infant mind,
230 And thy sweet-lisping tongue shall ask the cause,[Page 217]
231 How oft with sorrow shall mine eyes run o'er,
232 When, twining round my knees, I trace
233 Thy mother's smile upon thy face?
234 How oft to my full heart shalt thou restore
235 Sad memory of my joys — ah now no more!
236 By blessings once enjoy'd now more distrest,
237 More beggar by the riches once possest.
238 My little darling! — dearer to me grown
239 By all the tears thou'st caus'd — (O strange to hear!)
240 Bought with a life yet dearer than thy own,
241 Thy cradle purchas'd with thy mother's bier:
242 Who now shall seek with fond delight,
243 Thy infant steps to guide aright?
244 She, who with doating eyes, would gaze
245 On all thy little artless ways,
246 By all thy soft endearments blest,
247 And clasp thee oft with transport to her breast,
248 Alas! is gone — Yet shalt thou prove
249 A father's dearest, tenderest love:
250 And O! sweet senseless smiler (envied state!)
251 As yet unconscious of thy hapless fate,
252 When years thy judgment shall mature,
253 And Reason shews those ills it cannot cure,
254 Wilt thou, a father's grief to asswage,
255 For virtue prove the Phoenix of the earth?
256 (Like her, thy mother dy'd to give thee birth)
257 And be the comfort of my age! [Page 218]
258 When sick and languishing I lie,
259 Wilt thou my EMMA's wonted care supply?
260 And oft, as, to thy listening ear,
261 Thy mother's virtues and her fate I tell,
262 Say, wilt thou drop the tender tear,
263 Whilst on the mournful theme I dwell?
264 Then, fondly stealing to thy father's side,
265 Whene'er thou seest the soft distress,
266 Which I would vainly seek to hide,
267 Say, wilt thou strive to make it less?
268 To sooth my sorrows all thy cares employ,
269 And in my cup of grief infuse one drop of joy?