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In seas of flame my plunging soul is drown'd,
While altars blaze, and angels tremble round.
While prostrate here in humble griet I lie,
Kind virtuous drops just gathering in my eye,
While praying, trembling in the dust 1 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
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 Eloisa 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 1 beard 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'n superstition loses every fear:
For God, not man, absolves our frailties here."
I come, I come! prepare your roseate bowers,
Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flowers.
Thither, where sinners 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, no-in sacred vestments may'st thou stand,
The hallow'd taper trembling in my hand,
Present the cross before thy lifed eye,
Teach me at once, and learn of me, to die.
Ah then, thy once-lov'd Eloisa 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❜n my Abelard be lov'd no more.
O death, all-eloquent! you only prove
What dust we doat 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,)
In trance ecstatic may thy pangs be drown'd,
Bright clouds descend, and angels watch thee round;
From opening skies may streaming glories shine,
And saints embrace thee with a love like mine.
May one kind grave unite each hapless name,
And graft my love immortal on thy fame!
Then, ages hence, when all my woes are o'er,
When this rebellious heart shall beat no more;
If ever chance two wand'ring lovers brings
To Paraclete's white walls and silver springs,
O'er the pale marble shall they join their heads,
And drink the falling tears each other sheds;
Then sadly say, with mutual pity mov'd,
"O may we never love as these have lov'd!"
From the full choir when loud hosannas rise,
And swell the pomp of dreadful sacrifice,
Amid that scene if some relenting eye
Glance on the stone where our cold relics lie,
Devotion's self shall steal a thought from heav'n,
One human tear shall drop, and be forgiv'n.
And sure if fate some future bard shall join
In sad similitude of griefs to mine,
Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore,
And image charms he must behold no more;
Such if there be, who loves so long, so well,
Let him our sad, our tender story tell;
The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost;
He best can paint 'em who shall feel 'em most..
Phaon, a youth of exquisite beauty, was deeply enamoured of Sappho, a lady of Lesbos, from whom he met with the tenderest returns of passion: but his affection afterwards decaying, he left her, and sailed for Sicily. She, unable to bear the loss of her lover, hearkened to all the mad suggestions of despair; and seeing no other remedy for her present miseries, resolved to throw herself into the sea, from Leucate, a promontory of Epirus, which was thought a cure in cases of obstinate love, and therefore had obtained the name of Lover's Leap. But before she ventured upon this last step, entertaining still some fond hopes that she might be able to reclaim her inconstant, she wrote him this Epistle; in which she gives him a strong picture of her distress and misery, occasioned by his absence; and endeavours, by all the artful insinuations and moving expressions she is mistress of, to soothe him to softness and a mutual feeling.-[Anon.]
SAY, lovely youth, that dost my heart command, Can Phaon's eyes forget his Sappho's hand? Must then her name the wretched writer prove, To thy remembrance lost, as to thy love? Ask not the cause that I new numbers choose, The lute neglected, and the lyric muse: Love taught my tears in sadder notes to flow, And tun'd my heart to elegies of woe. I burn, I burn, as when through ripen'd corn By driving winds the spreading flames are borne ! Phaon to Etna's scorching fields retires, While I consume with more than Etna's fires!
No more my soul a charm in music finds;
Music hath 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 to only thine,
O youth ungrateful to a flame like mine!
Whom would not all those blooming charms sur-
Those heavenly looks, and dear deluding eyes?
The harp and bow would you like Phoebus bear,
A brighter Phoebus Phaon might appear;
Would you with ivy wreathe your flowing hair,
Not Bacchus' self with Phaon could compare:
Yet Phoebus lov'd, and Bacchus felt the flame,
One Daphne 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 Muses 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 denied,
Is well by wit's more lasting flames supplied.
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 unste,
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,
Phaon alone by Phaon must be lov'd!
Yet once thy Sappho could thy cares employ,
Once in her arms you centred all your joy;
No time the dear remembrance can remove,
For oh! how vast a memory bas love?
My music, then, you could for ever hear,
And all my words were music to your ear.
You stopp'd with kisses my enchanting tongue,