Helen Maria Williams
To Sensibility - Poem by Helen Maria Williams
In SENSIBILITY'S lov'd praise
I tune my trembling reed,
And seek to deck her shrine with bays,
On which my heart must bleed!
No cold exemption from her pain
I ever wish to know;
Cheer'd with her transport, I sustain
Without complaint her woe.
Above whate'er content can give,
Above the charm of ease,
The restless hopes and fears, that live
With her, have power to please.
Where, but for her, were Friendship's power
To heal the wounded heart,
To shorten sorrow's ling'ring hour,
And bid its gloom depart?
'Tis she that lights the melting eye
With looks to anguish dear;
She knows the price of every sigh,
The value of a tear.
She prompts the tender marks of love
Which words can scarce express;
The heart alone their force can prove,
And feel how much they bless.
Of every finer bliss the source!
'Tis she on love bestows
The softer grace, the boundless force,
Confiding passion knows;
When to another, the fond breast
Each thought for ever gives;
When on another leans for rest,
And in another lives!
Quick, as the trembling metal flies
When heat or cold impels,
Her anxious heart to joy can rise,
Or sink where anguish dwells!
Yet though her soul must griefs sustain
Which she alone can know,
And feel that keener sense of pain
Which sharpens every woe;
Though she, the mourners' grief to calm,
Still shares each pang they feel,
And, like the tree distilling balm,
Bleeds others' wounds to heal;
Though she, whose bosom, fondly true,
Has never wish'd to range,
One alter'd look will trembling view,
And scarce can bear the change;
Though she, if death the bands should tear
She vainly thought secure,
Through life must languish in despair,
That never hopes a cure;
Though wounded by some vulgar mind,
Unconscious of the deed,
Who never seeks those wounds to bind,
But wonders why they bleed;--
She oft will heave a secret sigh,
Will shed a lonely tear,
O'er feelings nature wrought so high,
And gave on terms so dear.
Yet who would hard INDIFFERENCE choose,
Whose breast no tears can steep?
Who, for her apathy, would lose
The sacred power to weep?
Though in a thousand objects pain
And pleasure tremble nigh,
Those objects strive to reach in vain
The circle of her eye.
Cold as the fabled god appears
To the poor suppliant's grief,
Who bathes the marble form in tears,
And vainly hopes relief.
Ah, GREVILLE ! why the gifts refuse
To souls like thine allied?
No more thy nature seem to lose,
No more thy softness hide.
No more invoke the playful sprite
To chill, with magic spell,
The tender feelings of delight,
And anguish sung so well;
That envied case thy heart would prove
Were sure too dearly bought
With friendship, sympathy, and love,
And every finer thought.
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