AN EVENING ADDRESS TO A NIGHTINGALE.
1 SWEET bird! that kindly perching near,
2 Pourest thy plaints melodious in mine ear,
3 Not, like base worldlings, tutor'd to forego
4 The melancholy haunts of Woe,
5 Thanks for thy sorrow-soothing strain: —
6 For surely, thou hast known to prove,
7 Like me, the pangs of hapless love,
8 Else why so feelingly complain,
9 And with thy piteous notes thus sadden all the grove? [Page 219]
10 Say, dost thou mourn thy ravish'd mate,
11 That oft enamour'd on thy strains has hung?
12 Or has the cruel hand of Fate
13 Bereft thee of thy darling young?
14 Alas, for BOTH, I weep —
15 In all the pride of youthful charms,
16 A beauteous bride torn from my circling arms!
17 A lovely babe that should have liv'd to bless,
18 And fill my doating eyes with frequent tears,
19 At once the source of rapture and distress,
20 The flattering prop of my declining years!
21 In vain from death to rescue I essay'd,
22 By every art that Science could devise,
23 Alas! it languish'd for a mother's aid,
24 And wing'd its flight to seek her in the skies —
25 Then O our comforts be the same,
26 At evening's peaceful hour,
27 To shun the noisy paths of wealth and fame,
28 And breathe our sorrows in this lonely bower.
29 But why alas! to thee complain!
30 To thee — unconscious of my pain!
31 Soon shalt THOU cease to mourn thy lot severe,
32 And hail the dawning of a happier year:
33 The genial warmth of joy-renewing spring
34 Again shall plume thy shatter'd wing;
35 Again thy little heart shall transport prove,
36 Again shall slow thy notes responsive to thy love:[Page 220]
37 But O for ME in vain may seasons roll,
38 Nought can dry up the fountain of my tears,
39 Deploring still the COMFORT OF MY SOUL,
40 I count my sorrows by encreasing years.
41 Tell me, thou Syren Hope, deceiver, say,
42 Where is the promis'd period of my woes?
43 Full three long, lingering years have roll'd away,
44 And yet I weep, a stranger to repose:
45 O what delusion did thy tongue employ!
46 "That EMMA's fatal pledge of love,
47 " Her last bequest — with all a mother's care,
48 "The bitterness of sorrow should remove,
49 " Soften the horrors of despair,
50 "And chear a heart long lost to joy!"
51 How oft, when fondling in mine arms,
52 Gazing enraptur'd on its angel-face,
53 My soul the maze of Fate would vainly trace,
54 And burn with all a father's fond alarms!
55 And O what flattering scenes had Fancy feign'd,
56 How did I rave of blessings yet in store!
57 Till every aching sense was sweetly pain'd,
58 And my full heart could bear, nor tongue could utter more. —
59 "Just Heaven, I cry'd" — with recent hopes elate,
60 "Yet I will live — will live, tho' EMMA's dead —
61 " So long bow'd down beneath the storms of Fate,
62 "Yet will I raise my woe-dejected head! [Page 221]
63 " My little EMMA, now my ALL,
64 "Will want a father's care,
65 " Her looks, her wants my rash resolves recal,
66 "And for her sake the ills of life I'll bear:
67 " And oft together we'll complain,
68 "Complaint, the only bliss my soul can know,
69 " From me, my child shall learn the mournful strain,
70 "And prattle tales of woe;
71 " And O in that auspicious hour,
72 "When Fate resigns her persecuting power,
73 " With duteous zeal her hand shall close,
74 "No more to weep — my sorrow-streaming eyes,
75 " When death gives misery repose,
76 "And opes a glorious passage to the skies.
77 Vain thought! it must not be — She too is dead —
78 The flattering scene is o'er —
79 My hopes for ever — ever fled —
80 And vengeance can no more —
81 Crush'd by misfortune — blasted by disease —
82 And none — none left to bear a friendly part!
83 To meditate my welfare, health, or ease,
84 Or sooth the anguish of an aching heart!
85 Now all one gloomy scene, till welcome death,
86 With lenient hand (O falsly deem'd severe)
87 Shall kindly stop my grief-exhausted breath,
88 And dry up every tear:[Page 222]
89 Perhaps, obsequious to my will,
90 But ah! from my affections far remov'd!
91 The last sad office strangers may fulfil,
92 As if I ne'er had been belov'd;
93 As if, unconscious of poetic fire,
94 I ne'er had touch'd the trembling lyre,
95 As if my niggard hand ne'er dealt relief,
96 Nor my heart melted at another's grief.
97 Yet — while this weary life shall last,
98 While yet my tongue can form the impassion'd strain,
99 In piteous accents shall the Muse complain,
100 And dwell with fond delay on blessings past:
101 For O how grateful to a wounded heart,
102 The tale of misery to impart!
103 From others' eyes bid artless sorrows flow,
104 And raise esteem upon the base of woe!
105 Even HEt
t Lord Lyttelton., the noblest of the tuneful throng,
106 Shall deign my love lorn tale to hear,
107 Shall catch the soft contagion of my song,
108 And pay my pensive Muse the tribute of a tear.