Anna Laetitia Barbauld
COME here fond youth, whoe'er thou be,
That boasts to love as well as me;
And if thy breast have felt so wide a wound,
Come hither and thy flame approve;
I'll teach thee what it is to love,
And by what marks true passion may be found.
It is to be all bath'd in tears;
To live upon a smile for years;
To lie whole ages at a beauty's feet:
To kneel, to languish and implore;
And still tho' she disdain, adore:
It is to do all this, and think thy sufferings sweet.
It is to gaze upon her eyes
With eager joy and fond surprise;
Yet temper'd with such chaste and awful fear
As wretches feel who wait their doom;
Nor must one ruder thought presume
Tho' but in whispers breath'd, to meet her ear.
It is to hope, tho' hope were loft;
Tho' heaven and earth thy passion crost;
Tho' she were bright as sainted queens above,
And thou the least and meanest swain
That folds his flock upon the plain,
Yet if thou dar'st not hope, thou dost not love.
It is to quench thy joy in tears:
To nurse strange doubts and groundless fears:
If pangs of jealousy thou hast not prov'd,
Tho' she were fonder and more true
Than any nymph old poets drew,
Oh never dream again that thou hast lov'd.
If when the darling maid is gone,
Thou dost not seek to be alone,
Wrapt in a pleasing trance of tender woe;
And muse, and fold thy languid arms,
Feeding thy fancy on her charms,
Thou dost not love, for love is nourish'd so.
If any hopes thy bosom share
But those which love has planted there,
Or any cares but his thy breast enthrall,
Thou never yet his power hast known;
Love sits on a despotic throne,
And reigns a tyrant, if he reigns at all.
Now if thou art so lost a thing,
Here all thy tender sorrows bring,
And prove whose patience longest can endure:
We'll strive whose fancy shall be lost
In dreams of fondest passion most;
For if thou thus hast lov'd, oh! never hope a cure.
S O N G II
IF ever thou dist joy to bind
Two hearts in equal passion join'd,
O son of VENUS! hear me now,
And bid FLORELLA bless my vow.
If any bliss reserv'd for me
Thou in the leaves of fate should'st see;
If any white propitious hour,
Pregnant with hoarded joys in store;
Now, now the mighty treasure give,
In her for whom alone I live:
In sterling love pay all the sum,
And I'll absolve the fates to come.
In all the pride of full-blown charms
Yield her, relenting, to my arms:
Her bosom touch with soft desires,
And let her feel what she inspires.
But, CUPID, if thine aid be vain
The dear reluctant maid to gain;
If still with cold averted eyes
She dash my hopes, and scorn my sighs;
O! grant ('tis all I ask of thee)
That I no more may change than she;
But still with duteous zeal love on,
When every gleam of hope is gone.
Leave me then alone to languish,
Think not time can heal my anguish;
Pity the woes which I endure;
But never, never grant a cure.
S O N G III
Leave me, simple shepherd, leave me;
Drag no more a hopeless chain:
I cannot like, nor would deceive thee;
Love the maid that loves again.
Tho' more gentle nymphs surround me,
Kindly pitying what I feel,
Only you have power to wound me;
SYLVIA, only you can heal.
Corin, cease this idle teazing;
Love that's forc'd is harsh and sour:
If the lover be displeasing,
To persist disgusts the more.
'Tis in vain, in vain to fly me,
Sylvia, I will still pursue;
Twenty thousand times deny me,
I will kneel and weep anew.
Cupid ne'er shall make me languish,
I was born averse to love;
Lovers' sighs, and tears, and anguish,
Mirth and pastime to me prove.
Still I vow with patient duty
Thus to meet your proudest scorn;
You for unrelenting beauty,
I for constant love was born.
But the fates had not consented,
Since they both did fickle prove;
Of her scorn the maid repented,
And the shepherd of his love.
S O N G IV
WHEN gentle CELIA first I knew,
A breast so good, so kind, so true,
Reason and taste approv'd;
Pleas'd to indulge so pure a flame,
I call'd it by too soft a name,
And fondly thought I lov'd.
Till CHLORIS came, with sad surprise
I felt the light'ning of her eyes
Thro' all my senses run;
All glowing with resistless charms,
She fill'd my breast with new alarms,
I saw, and was undone.
O CELIA! dear unhappy maid,
Forbear the weakness to upbraid
Which ought your scorn to move;
I know this beauty false and vain,
I know she triumphs in my pain,
Yet still I feel I love.
Thy gentle smiles no more can please,
Nor can thy softest friendship ease
The torments I endure;
Think what that wounded breast must feel
Which truth and kindness cannot heal,
Nor even thy pity cure.
Oft shall I curse my iron chain,
And wish again thy milder reign
With long and vain regret ;
All that I can, to thee I give,
And could I still to reason live
I were thy captain yet.
But passion's wild impetuous sea
Hurries me far from peace and thee ;
'Twere vain to struggle more:
Thus the poor sailor slumbering lies,
While swelling tides around him rise,
And push his bark from shore.
In vain he spreads his helpless arms,
His pitying friends with fond alarms
In vain deplore his state;
Still far and farther from the coast,
On the high surge his bark is tost,
And foundering yields to fate.
S O N G V
AS near a weeping spring reclin'd
The beauteous ARAMINTA pin'd,
And mourn'd a false ungrateful youth;
While dying echoes caught the sound,
And spread the soft complaints around
Of broken vows and alter'd truth;
An aged shepherd heard her moan,
And thus in pity's kindest tone
Address'd the lost despairing maid:
Cease, cease unhappy fair to grieve,
For sounds, tho' sweet, can ne'er relieve
A breaking heart by love betray'd.
Why shouldst thou waste such precious showers,
That fall like dew on wither'd flowers,
But dying passion ne'er restor'd?
In beauty's empire is no mean,
And woman, either slave or queen,
Is quickly scorn'd when not ador'd.
Those liquid pearls from either eye,
Which might an eastern empire buy,
Unvalued here and fruitless fall;
No art the season can renew
When love was young, and DAMON true;
No tears a wandering heart recall.
Cease, cease to grieve, thy tears are vain,
Should those fair orbs in drops of rain
Vie with a weeping southern sky:
For hearts o'ercome with love and grief
All nature yields but one relief;
Die, hapless ARAMINTA, die.
S O N G VI
WHEN first upon your tender cheek
I saw the morn of beauty break
With mild and chearing beam,
I bow'd before your infant shrine,
The earliest sighs you had were mine,
And you my darling heme.
I saw you in that opening morn
For beauty's boundless empire born,
And first confess'd your sway;
And e'er your thoughts, devoid of art,
Could learn the value of a heart,
I gave my heart away.
I watch'd the dawn of every grace,
And gaz'd upon that angel face,
While yet 'twas safe to gaze;
And fondly blest each rising charm,
Nor thought such innocence could harm
The peace of future days.
But now despotic o'er the plains
The awful noon of beauty reigns,
And kneeling crowds adore;
These charms arise too fiercely bright,
Danger and death attend the fight,
And I must hope no more.
Thus to the rising God of day
Their early vows the Persians pay,
And bless the spreading fire;
Whose glowing chariot mounting soon
Pours on their heads the burning noon;
They sicken, and expire.
Anna Laetitia Barbauld's Other Poems
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(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
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