Matthew Prior

(1664 - 1721 / Dorset / England)

The Lady's Looking-Glass


Celia and I the other Day
Walk'd o'er the Sand-Hills to the Sea:
The setting Sun adorn'd the Coast,
His Beams entire, his Fierceness lost:
And, on the Surface of the Deep,
The Winds lay only not asleep:
The Nymph did like the Scene appear,
Serenely pleasant, calmly fair:
Soft fell her words, as flew the Air.
With secret Joy I heard Her say,
That She would never miss one Day
A Walk so fine, a Sight so gay.

But, oh the Change! the Winds grow high:
Impending Tempests charge the Sky:
The Lightning flies: the Thunder roars:
And big Waves lash the frighten'd Shoars.
Struck with the Horror of the Sight,
She turns her Head, and wings her Flight;
And trembling vows, She'll ne'er again
Approach the Shoar, or view the Main.

Once more at least look back, said I;
Thy self in That large Glass descry:
When Thou art in good Humour drest;
When gentle Reason rules thy Breast;
The Sun upon the calmest Sea
Appears not half so bright as Thee:
'Tis then, that with Delight I rove
Upon the boundless Depth of Love:
I bless my Chain: I hand my Oar;
Nor think on all I left on Shoar.

But when vain Doubt, and groundless Fear
Do That Dear Foolish Bosom tear;
When the big Lip, and wat'ry Eye
Tell Me, the rising Storm is nigh:
'Tis then, Thou art yon' angry Main,
Deform'd by Winds, and dash'd by Rain;
And the poor Sailor that must try
Its Fury, labours less than I.

Shipwreck'd, in vain to Land I make;
While Love and Fate still drive Me back:
Forc'd to doat on Thee thy own Way,
I chide Thee first, and then obey:
Wretched when from Thee, vex'd when nigh,
I with Thee, or without Thee, die.

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010

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