Anna Laetitia Barbauld

(20 June 1743 – 9 March 1825 / Leicestershire, England)

Delia, An Elegy


YES, DELIA loves! My fondest vows are blest;
Farewel the memory of her past disdain;
One kind relenting glance has heal'd my breast,
And balanc'd in a moment years of pain.

O'er her soft cheek consenting blushes move,
And with kind stealth her secret soul betray;

Blushes, which usher in the morn of love,
Sure as the red'ning east foretells the day.

Her tender smiles shall pay me with delight
For many a bitter pang of jealous fear;
For many an anxious day, and sleepless night,
For many a stifled sigh, and silent tear.

DELIA shall come, and bless my lone retreat;
She does not scorn the shepherd's lowly life;
She will not blush to leave the splendid seat,
And own the title of a poor man's wife.

The simple knot shall bind her gather'd hair,
The russet garment clasp her lovely breast:
DELIA shall mix amongst the rural fair,
By charms alone distinguish'd from the rest.

And meek Simplicity, neglected maid,
Shall bid my fair in native graces shine:
She, only she, shall lend her modest aid,
Chaste, sober priestess, at sweet beauty's shrine!

How sweet to muse by murmuring springs reclin'd;
Or loitering careless in the shady grove,
Indulge the gentlest feelings of the mind,
And pity those who live to aught but love!

When DELIA's hand unlocks her shining hair,
And o'er her shoulder spreads the flowing gold,
Base were the man who one bright tress would spare
For all the ore of India's coarser mold.

By her dear side with what content I'd toil,
Patient of any labour in her sight;
Guide the slow plough, or turn the stubborn soil,
Till the last, ling'ring beam of doubtful light.

But softer tasks divide my DELIA's hours;
To watch the firstlings at their harmless play;
With welcome shade to screen the languid flowers,
That sicken in the summer's parching ray.

Oft will she stoop amidst her evening walk,
With tender hand each bruised plant to rear;
To bind the drooping lily's broken stalk,
And nurse the blossoms of the infant year.

When beating rains forbid our feet to roam,
We'll shelter'd sit, and turn the storied page;
There see what passions shake the lofty dome
With mad ambition or ungovern'd rage:

What headlong ruin oft involves the great;
What conscious terrors guilty bosoms prove;
What strange and sudden turns of adverse fate
Tear the sad virgin from her plighted love.

DELIA shall read, and drop a gentle tear;
Then cast her eyes around the low-roof'd cot,
And own the fates have dealt more kindly here,
That blest with only love our little lot.

For love has sworn (I heard the awful vow)
The wav'ring heart shall never be his care,
That stoops at any baser shrine to bow :
And what he cannot rule, he scorns to share.

My heart in DELIA is so fully blest,
It has not room to lodge another joy;
My peace all leans upon that gentle breast,
And only there misfortune can annoy.

Our silent hours shall steal unmark'd away
In one long tender calm of rural peace;
And measure many a fair unblemish'd day
Of chearful leisure and poetic ease.

The proud unfeeling world their lot shall scorn
Who 'midst inglorious shades can poorly dwell:
Yet if some youth, for gentler passions born,
Shall chance to wander near our lowly cell,

His feeling breast with purer flames shall glow;
And leaving pomp, and state, and cares behind,
Shall own the world has little to bestow
Where two fond hearts in equal love are join'd.

Submitted: Monday, September 06, 2010

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