Anna Laetitia Barbauld

(20 June 1743 – 9 March 1825 / Leicestershire, England)

To The Baron Destonne - Poem by Anna Laetitia Barbauld

WHO HAD WISHED AT THE NEXT TRANSIT OF MERCURY TO FIND HIMSELF AGAIN BETWEEN MRS. LA BORDE AND MRS. B.

In twice five winters more and one,
Hermes again will cross the Sun;
Again a dusky spot appear,
Slow-journeying o'er his splendid sphere:
The stars shall slide into their places,
Exhibiting the self-same faces,
And in the like position fix
As Thursday morning, eighty-six.
But changing mortals hope in vain
Their lost position more to gain;—

Once more between La Borde and me!—
Ah, wish not what will never be!
For wandering planets have their rules,
Well known in astronomic schools;
But life's swift wheels will ne'er turn back,
When once they've measured o'er their track.
Eleven years,—twice five and one,—
Is a long hour in Beauty's sun:
Those years will pilfer many a grace
Which decks La Borde's enchanting face;
The little Loves which round her fly,
Will moult the wing, and droop, and die:
And I, grown dull, my lyre unstrung
In some old chimney corner hung,
Gay scenes of Paris all forgot,
Shall rust within my silent cot:
Life's summer ended, and life's spring,
Nor she shall charm, nor I shall sing.
Even Cook, upon whose blooming brow
The youthful graces open now,

Eleven years may vastly change:
No more the Provinces he'll range;
No more with humid eyes entreat,
And wait his doom at Beauty's feet;
Married and grave, he'll spend his time
Far from the idleness of rime;
Forgetting oranges and myrtle,
Will drink his port and eat his turtle;
Perhaps with country justice sit,
And turn his back on thee and Wit.

For thee, my friend, whose copious vein
Pours forth at will the polished strain,
With every talent formed to please,
Each fair idea quick to seize;—
Who knows within so long a space
What scenes the present may efface,
What course thy stream of life may take,
What winds may curl, what storms may shake,

What varying colours, gay or grave,
Shall tinge by turns the passing wave;
Of objects on its banks what swarms—
The loftier or the fairer forms—
Shall glide before the liquid glass,
And print their image as they pass?

Let Fancy then and Friendship stray
In Pleasure's flowery walks today,
Today improve the social hours,
And build today the Muse's bowers;
And when life's pageant on will go,
Try not to stop the passing show;
But give to scenes that once were dear,
A sigh, a farewell, and a tear.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 6, 2010



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