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Assist me, Heav'n ! but whence arose that pray'r?
Sprung it from piety, or from despair?
Evin here, where frozen chastity retires,
Love finds an altar for forbidden fires.
I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought ?
I mourn the lover, not lament the fault;
I view my crime, but kindle at the view,
Repent old pleasures, and solicit new;
Now turn'd to heav'n, I weep my past offence,
Now think of thee, and curse my innocence.
Of all affliction taught a lover yet,
'Tis sure the hardest science to forget!
How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense,
And love the offender, yet detest the offence ?
How the dear object from the crime remove,
Or how distinguish penitence from love?
Unequal task ! a passion to resign,
For hearts so touch'd, so pierc'd, so lost as mine.
Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
How often must it love, how often hate!
How often hope, despair, resent, regret,
Conceal, disdain-do all things but forget!
But let heav'n seize it, all at once 'tis fir'd;
Not touch'd, but wrapt; not waken'd, but inspir'd!
O come! O teach me nature to subdue,
Renounce my love, my life, myself-and you :
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he
Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot:
Eternal sun-shine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resiga'd;
Labour and rest, that equal periods keep;
Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;
Desires compos'd, affections ever ev'n;
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heava;
Grace shines around her with serenest beams,
And whispering angels prompt her golden dreams.
For her the unfading rose of Eden blooms,
And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes ?
For her the spouse prepares the bridal ring;
For her white virgins hymenæals sing ;
To sounds of heavenly harps she dies away,
And melts in visions of eternal day.
Far other dreams my erring soul employ,
Far other raptures of unholy joy :
When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day,
Fancy restores what vengeance snatch'd away,
Then conscience sleeps, and leaving nature free,
All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee.
Oh curst, dear horrors of all-conscious night!
How glowing guilt exalts the keen delight!
Provoking demons all restraint remove,
And stir within me every source of love.
I bear thee, view thee, gaze o'er all thy charms,
And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms.
I wake no more I hear, no more I view,
The phantom flies me, as unkind as you.
I call aloud ; it hears not what I say:
I stretch my empty arms; it glides away.
To dream once more I close my willing eyes ;
Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise !
Alas, no more! methinks we wandering go
Through dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe,
Where round some mouldering tow'r pale ivy creeps,
And low-brow'd rocks hang nodding o'er the deeps.
Sudden you mount, you beckon from the skies;
Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise.
I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find,
And wake to all the griefs I left behind.
For thee the fates, severely kind, ordain A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain; Thy life a long dead calm of fix'd repose ; No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows. Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow, Or moving spirits bid the waters flow; Soft as the slumbers of a saint forgiv'n, And mild as opening gleams of promis'd heav'n.
Come, Abelard ! for what hast thou to dread? The torch of Venus burns not for the dead,
Nature stands check'd ; Religion disapproves ;
Ev'n thou art cold-yet Eloïsa loves.
Ah hopeless, lasting flames ! like those that burn
To light the dead, and warm the' unfruitful urn.
What scenes appear where'er I turn my view ?
The dear ideas, where I fly, pursue ;
Rise in the grove, before the altar rise,
Stain all my soul, and wanton in my eyes.
I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee,
Thy image steals between my God and me;
Thy voice I seem in every hymn to hear,
With every bead I drop too soft a tear.
When from the censer clouds of fragrance roll,
And swelling organs lift the rising soul,
One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight,
Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight :
In seas of flame my plunging soul is drown'd,
While altars blaze, and angels tremble round.
While prostrate here in humble grief I lie, Kind virtuous drops just gathering in my eye, While praying, trembling, in the dust I roll, And dawning grace is opening on my soul: Come, if thou dar'st, all charming as thou art ! Oppose thyself to heav'n; dispute my heart; Come, with one glance of those deluding eyes Blot out each bright idea of the skies; Take back that grace, those sorrows and those tears; Take back my fruitless penitence and pray'rs; Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode ; Assist the fiends, and tear me from my God!
No, fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole; Rise Alps between us! and whole oceans roll! Ah, come not, write not, think not once of me, Nor share one pang of all I felt for thee. Thy oaths I quit, thy memory resign ; Forget, renounce me, hate whate'er was mine. Fair eyes, and tempting looks (which yet I view), Long lov'd, ador'd ideas, all adieu ! O grace serene! O virtue heav'nly fair! Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care!
Fresh blooming Hope, gay daughter of the sky !
And Faith, our early immortality !
Enter each mild, each amicable guest ;
Receive, and wrap me in eternal rest!
See in her cell sad Eloïsa spread,
Propt on some tomb, a neighbour of the dead.
In each low wind methinks a spirit calls,
And more than echoes talk along the walls.
Here, as I watch'd the dying lamps around,
From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound :
" Come, sister, come! (it said, or seem'd to say).
Thy place is here, sad sister, come away;
Once, like thyself, I trembled, wept, and pray'd,
Love's victim then, though now a sainted maid:
But all is calm in this eternal sleep;
Here grief forgets to groan, and love to weep;
Ev'o superstition loses every fear :
For God, not man, absolves our frailties here."
I come! prepare your roseate bowers, Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flowers. Thither, where singers may have rest, I go, Where flames refin'd in breasts seraphic glow : Thou, Abelard ! the last sad office pay, And smooth my passage to the realms of day: See my lips tremble, and my eye-balls roll, Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul ! Ah, 10-in sacred vestments mayst thou stand, The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand, Present the cross before my lifted eye, Teach me at once, and learn of me to die. Ah then, thy once-lov'd Eloïsa see! It will be then no crime to gaze on me; See from my cheek the transient roses fly! See the last sparkle languish in my eye! Till every motion, pulse, and breath be o'er; And ev'a my Abelard be lov'd no more. O Death, all-eloquent! you only prove What dust we dote on, when 'tis man we love.
Then too, when fate shall thy fair frame destroy (That cause of all my guilt, and all my joy,)
No more my soul a charm in music finds;
Music has charms alone for peaceful minds.
Soft scenes of solitude no more can please;
Love enters there, and I'm my own disease.
No more the Lesbian dames my passion move,
Once the dear objects of my guilty love;
All other loves are lost in only thine,
O youth, ungrateful to a flame like mine!
Whom would not all those blooming charms surprise,
Those heavenly looks, and dear deluding eyes ?
The harp and bow would you like Phæbus bear,
A brighter Phobus Phaon might appear ;
Would you with ivy wreath your flowing hair,
Not Bacchus' self with Phaon could compare :
Yet Phæbus lov'd, and Bacchus felt the flame,
One Daphné warm'd, and one the Cretan dame;
Nymphs that in verse no more could rival me,
Than ev’n those gods contend in charms with thee.
The Muscs teach me all their softest lays,
And the wide world resounds with Sappho's praise.
Though great Alcæus more sublimely sings,
And strikes with bolder rage the sounding strings,
No less renown attends the moving lyre,
Which Venus tunes, and all her loves inspire;
To me what nature has in charms deny'd,
Is well by wit's more lasting flames supply'd.
Though short my stature, yet my name extends
To heav'n itself, and earth's remotest ends.
Brown as I am, an Ethiopian dame
Inspir'd young Perseus with a generous flame;
Turtles and doves of different hues unite,
And glossy jet is pair'd with shining white.
If to no charms thou wilt thy heart resign,
But such as merit, such as equal thine,
By none, alas! by none thou canst be mov'd,
Plaon alone by Phaon must be lor'd!
Yet once thy Sappho could thy cares employ,
Once in her arms you centred all your joy :