Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Saturday, The Small-Pox - Poem by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu


The wretched FLAVIA on her couch reclin'd,
Thus breath'd the anguish of a wounded mind ;
A glass revers'd in her right hand she bore,
For now she shun'd the face she sought before.

'How am I chang'd ! alas ! how am I grown
'A frightful spectre, to myself unknown !
'Where's my Complexion ? where the radiant Bloom,
'That promis'd happiness for Years to come ?
'Then with what pleasure I this face survey'd !
'To look once more, my visits oft delay'd !
'Charm'd with the view, a fresher red would rise,
'And a new life shot sparkling from my eyes !

'Ah ! faithless glass, my wonted bloom restore;
'Alas ! I rave, that bloom is now no more !
'The greatest good the GODS on men bestow,
'Ev'n youth itself, to me is useless now.
'There was a time, (oh ! that I could forget !)
'When opera-tickets pour'd before my feet ;
'And at the ring, where brightest beauties shine,
'The earliest cherries of the spring were mine.
'Witness, O Lilly ; and thou, Motteux, tell
'How much Japan these eyes have made ye sell.
'With what contempt ye you saw me oft despise
'The humble offer of the raffled prize ;
'For at the raffle still the prize I bore,
'With scorn rejected, or with triumph wore !
' Now beauty's fled, and presents are no more !

'For me the Patriot has the house forsook,
'And left debates to catch a passing look :
'For me the Soldier has soft verses writ ;
'For me the Beau has aim'd to be a Wit.
'For me the Wit to nonsense was betray'd ;
'The Gamester has for me his dun delay'd,
'And overseen the card, I would have play'd.
'The bold and haughty by success made vain,
'Aw'd by my eyes has trembled to complain:
'The bashful 'squire touch'd by a wish unknown,
'Has dar'd to speak with spirit not his own ;
'Fir'd by one wish, all did alike adore ;
'Now beauty's fled, and lovers are no more!

'As round the room I turn my weeping eyes,
'New unaffected scenes of sorrow rise !
'Far from my sight that killing picture bear,
'The face disfigure, and the canvas tear !
'That picture which with pride I us'd to show,
'The lost resemblance but upbraids me now.
'And thou, my toilette! where I oft have sat,
'While hours unheeded pass'd in deep debate,
'How curls should fall, or where a patch to place :
'If blue or scarlet best became my face;
'Now on some happier nymph thy aid bestow ;
'On fairer heads, ye useless jewels glow !
'No borrow'd lustre can my charms restore ;
'Beauty is fled, and dress is now no more !

'Ye meaner beauties, I permit ye shine ;
'Go, triumph in the hearts that once were mine ;
'But midst your triumphs with confusion know,
''Tis to my ruin all your arms ye owe.
'Would pitying Heav'n restore my wonted mien,
'Ye still might move unthought-of and unseen.
'But oh ! how vain, how wretched is the boast
'Of beauty faded, and of empire lost !
'What now is left but weeping, to deplore
'My beauty fled, and empire now no more !

'Ye, cruel Chymists, what with-held your aid !
'Could no pomatums save a trembling maid ?
'How false and trifling is that art you boast ;
'No art can give me back my beauty lost.
'In tears, surrounded by my friends I lay,
'Mask'd o'er and trembled at the sight of day;
'MIRMILLO came my fortune to deplore,
'(A golden headed cane, well carv'd he bore)
'Cordials, he cried, my spirits must restore :
'Beauty is fled, and spirit is no more !

'GALEN, the grave ; officious SQUIRT was there,
'With fruitless grief and unavailing care :
'MACHAON too, the great MACHAON, known
'By his red cloak and his superior frown ;
'And why, he cry'd, this grief and this despair ?
'You shall again be well, again be fair ;
'Believe my oath; (with that an oath he swore)
'False was his oath; my beauty is no more!

'Cease, hapless maid, no more thy tale pursue,
'Forsake mankind, and bid the world adieu !
'Monarchs and beauties rule with equal sway ;
'All strive to serve, and glory to obey :
'Alike unpitied when depos'd they grow ;
'Men mock the idol of their former vow.

'Adieu ! ye parks ! -- in some obscure recess,
'Where gentle streams will weep at my distress,
'Where no false friend will in my grief take part,
'And mourn my ruin with a joyful heart ;
'There let me live in some deserted place,
'There hide in shades this lost inglorious face.
'Ye, operas, circles, I no more must view !
'My toilette, patches, all the world adieu!

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Read poems about / on: beauty, grief, lost, soldier, success, red, despair, happiness, pride, believe, sorrow, spring, house, friend, rose

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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