Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Julia To Ovid
Poem by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Written at Twelve Years of Age, in imitation of Ovid's Epistles.
Are love and pow'r incapable to meet?
And must they all be wretched who are great?
Enslav'd by titles, and by forms confin'd,
For wretched victims to the state design'd.
What rural maid, that my sad fortune knows,
Would quit her cottage to embrace my woes?
Would be this cursed sacrifice to pow'r,
This wretched daughter of Rome's emperour?
When sick with sighs to absent Ovid given,
I tire with vows the unrelenting Heaven,
Drown'd in my tears, and with my sorrows pale,
What then do all my kindred gods avail?
Let proud Augustus the whole world subdue,
be mine to place all happiness in you;
With nobler pride I can on throes look down,
Can court your love and can despise a crown, --
O Love! thou pleasure never dearly bought!
Whose joys exceed the very lover's thought;
Of that soft passion, when you teach the art,
In gentle sounds it steals into the heart;
With such sweet magic does the soul surprise,
'Tis only taught us better by your eyes.
O Ovid! first of the inspired train,
To Heaven I speak in that enchanting strain,
So sweet a voice can never plead in vain.
Apollo will protect his favourite son,
And all the little Loves unto thy succour run.
The Loves and Muses in thy prayer shall join,
And all their wishes and their vows be thine;
Some god will soften my hard Father's breast,
And work a miracle to make thee blest.
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
Hard as this is, I even could this bear,
But greater ills than what I feel, I fear.
My fame -- my Ovid -- both for ever fled,
what greater evil is there left to dread!
Yes, there is one . . . . . . . . . . .
Avert it, Gods, who do my sorrows see!
Avert it, thou, who art a god to me!
When back to Rome your wishing eyes are cast,
And on the lessening towers you gaze your last --
When fancy shall recal unto your view
The pleasures now for ever lost to you,
The shining court, and all the thousand ways
To melt the nights and pass the happy days --
Will you not sigh, and hate the wretched maid,
Whose fatal love your safety has betray'd?
Say that from me your banishment does come,
And curse the eyes that have expell'd you Rome?
Those eyes, which now are weeping for your woes,
The sleep of death shall then for ever close.
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