To Stella, Written On The Day Of Her Birth. March 13, 1723-4, But Not On The Subject, When I Was Sick In Bed
Tormented with incessant pains,
Can I devise poetic strains?
Time was, when I could yearly pay
My verse to Stella's native day:
But now unable grown to write,
I grieve she ever saw the light.
Ungrateful! since to her I owe
That I these pains can undergo.
She tends me like an humble slave;
And, when indecently I rave,
When out my brutish passions break,
With gall in every word I speak,
She with soft speech my anguish cheers,
Or melts my passions down with tears;
Although 'tis easy to descry
She wants assistance more than I;
Yet seems to feel my pains alone,
And is a stoic in her own.
When, among scholars, can we find
So soft and yet so firm a mind?
All accidents of life conspire
To raise up Stella's virtue higher;
Or else to introduce the rest
Which had been latent in her breast.
Her firmness who could e'er have known,
Had she not evils of her own?
Her kindness who could ever guess,
Had not her friends been in distress?
Whatever base returns you find
From me, dear Stella, still be kind.
In your own heart you'll reap the fruit,
Though I continue still a brute.
But, when I once am out of pain,
I promise to be good again;
Meantime, your other juster friends
Shall for my follies make amends;
So may we long continue thus,
Admiring you, you pitying us.