To a LADY in Town, soon after her leaving the Country.
1 WHilst you, dear maid, o'er thousands born to reign,
2 For the gay town exchange the rural plain,
3 The cooling breeze and ev'ning walk forsake
4 For stifling crowds, which your own beauties make;
5 Thro' circling joys while you incessant stray,
6 Charm in the Mall, and sparkle at the play;
7 Think (if successive vanities can spare
8 One thought to love) what cruel pangs I bear,
9 Left in these plains all wretched, and alone,
10 To weep with fountains, and with echoes groan,
11 And mourn incessantly that fatal day,
12 That all my bliss with CHLOE snatch'd away.
13 Say, by what arts I can relieve my pain,
14 Musick, verse, all I try, but try in vain;
15 In vain the breathing flute my hand employs,
16 Late the companion of my CHLOE'S voice.[Page 135]
17 Nor HANDEL'S, nor CORELLI'S tuneful airs
18 Can harmonize my soul, or sooth my cares;
19 Those once-lov'd med'cines unsuccessful prove,
20 Musick, alas, is but the voice of love!
21 In vain I oft harmonious lines peruse,
22 And seek for aid from POPE'S and PRIOR'S Muse;
23 Their treach'rous numbers but assist the foe,
24 And call forth scenes of sympathising woe;
25 Here HELOISE mourns her absent lover's charms,
26 There panting EMMA sighs in HENRY'S arms;
27 Their loves like mine ill-fated I bemoan,
28 And in their tender sorrows read my own.
29 Restless sometimes, as oft the mournful dove
30 Forsakes her nest forsaken by her love,
31 I fly from home, and seek the sacred fields,
32 Where CAM'S old urn its silver current yields,
33 Where solemn tow'rs o'er-look each mossy grove,
34 As if to guard it from th' assaults of love;
35 Yet guard in vain, for there my CHLOE'S eyes
36 But lately made whole colleges her prize;
37 Her sons, tho' few, not PALLAS cou'd defend,
38 Nor DULLNESS succour to her thousands lend;
39 Love like a fever with infectious rage
40 Scorch'd up the young, and thaw'd the frost of age;
41 To gaze at her, ev'n DONS are seen to run,
42 And leave unfinish'd pipes, and authors — scarce begun.
43 So HELEN look'd, and mov'd with such a grace,
44 When the grave seniors of the TROJAN race[Page 136]
45 Were forc'd those fatal beauties to admire,
46 That all their youth consum'd, and set their town on fire.
47 At fam'd NEWMARKET oft I spend the day,
48 An unconcern'd spectator of the play;
49 There pitiless observe the ruin'd heir
50 With anger fir'd, or melting with despair:
51 For how should I his trivial loss bemoan,
52 Who feel one, so much greater, of my own?
53 There while the golden heaps, a glorious prize,
54 Wait the decision of two rival dice,
55 While long disputes 'twixt seven and five remain,
56 And each, like parties, have their friends for gain,
57 Without one wish I see the guineas shine,
58 Fate, keep your gold, I cry, make CHLOE mine.
59 Now see, prepar'd their utmost speed to try,
60 O'er the smooth turf the bounding racers fly!
61 Now more and more their slender limbs they strain,
62 And foaming stretch along the velvet plain!
63 Ah stay! swift steeds, your rapid flight delay,
64 No more the jockey's smarting lash obey:
65 But rather let my hand direct the rein,
66 And guide your steps a nobler prize to gain;
67 Then swift as eagles cut the yielding air,
68 Bear me, oh bear me to the absent fair.
69 Now when the winds are hush'd, the air serene,
70 And chearful sun-beams gild the beauteous scene,
71 Pensive o'er all the neighb'ring fields I stray,
72 Where-e'er or choice, or chance directs the way;[Page 137]
73 Or view the op'ning lawns, or private woods,
74 Or distant bluish hills, or silver floods:
75 Now harmless birds in silken nets insnare,
76 Now with swift dogs pursue the flying hare;
77 Dull sports! for oh my CHLOE is not there!
78 Fatigued at length I willingly retire
79 To a small study, and a chearful fire,
80 There o'er some folio pore; I pore, 'tis true,
81 But oh my thoughts are fled, and fled to you;
82 I hear you, see you, feast upon your eyes,
83 And clasp with eager arms the lovely prize.
84 Here for a while I cou'd forget my pain,
85 Whilst I by dear reflection live again;
86 But ev'n these joys are too sublime to last,
87 And quickly fade, like all the real ones past:
88 For just when now beneath some silent grove
89 I hear you talk — and talk perhaps of love,
90 Or charm with thrilling notes the list'ning ear,
91 Sweeter than angels sing, or angels hear,
92 My treach'rous hand its weighty charge lets go,
93 The book falls thund'ring on the floor below,
94 The pleasing vision in a moment's gone,
95 And I once more am wretched and alone.
96 So when glad ORPHEUS from th' infernal shade
97 Had just recall'd his long-lamented maid,
98 Soon as her charms had reach'd his eager eyes,
99 Lost in eternal night — again she dies.