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ELEGY TO THE MEMORY OF AN
What beckoning ghost along the moonlight shade
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade ?
'Tis she !-but why that bleeding bosom gor’d?
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword ?
Oh ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it, in Heaven, a crime to love too well ?
To bear too tender or too firm a heart,
To act a lover's or a Roman's part ?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky
For those who greatly think, or bravely die?
Why bade ye else, ye powers ! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low desire ?
Ambition first sprung
blest abodes, The glorious fault of angels and of gods : Thence to their images on earth it flows, And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows. Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age, Dull sullen prisoners in the body's cage; Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres; Like eastern kings a lazy state they keep, And, close confin’d to their own palace, sleep.
From these, perhaps (ere nature bade her die), Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky. As into air the purer spirits flow, And separate from their kindred dregs below; So flew the soul to its congenial place, Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good, Thou; mean deserter of thy brother's blood ! See on these ruby lips the trembling breath, These cheeks now fading at the blast of death; Cold is that breast which warm’d the world before, And those love-darting eyes must roll no more. Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball, Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall; On all the line a sudden vengeance waits, And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates ; There passengers shall stand, and pointing say (While the long funerals blacken all the way), Lo! these were they whose souls the furies steeld, And curs'd with hearts unknowing how to yield. Thus unlamented pass the proud away, The
gaze of fools, and pageant of a day! So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn’d to glow For others' good, or melt at others' woe.
What can atone, O ever injur'd shade! Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid ? No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear Pleas'd thy pale ghost, or grac'd thy mournful bier. By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd, By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos’d,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd,
By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn’d!
What though no friends in sable weeds appear,
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year ;
And bear about the mockery of woe
To midnight dances, and the public show?
What though no weeping loves thy ashes grace,
Nor polish'd marble emulate thy face?
What though no sacred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb ?
Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be dress’d,
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast:
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first roses of the year shall blow;
While angels with their silver wings o'ershade
The ground, now sacred by thy relics made.
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.
How lov’d, how honour'd once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee;
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!
Poets themselves must fall like those they sung, Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. E’en he whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the generous tear he pays; Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart; Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er, The Muse forgot, and thou belov'd no more!
FROM THE FIFTEENTH OF OVID'S EPISTLES.
Say, lovely youth, that dost my heart command,
Can Phaon's eyes forget his Sappho's hand ?
Must then her name the wretched writer prove,
To thy remembrance lost, as to thy love?
Ask not the cause that I new numbers choose,
The lute neglected and the lyric muse ;
Love taught my tears in sadder notes to flow,
And tun'd my heart to elegies of woe.
I burn, I burn, as when through ripen'd corn
By driving winds the spreading flames are borne!
Phaon to Ætna's scorching fields retires,
While I consume with more than Ætna's fires !
No more my soul a charm in music finds;
Music has charms alone for peaceful minds.
Soft scenes of solitude no more can please ;
Love enters there, and I'm my own disease.
No more the Lesbian dames my passion move,
Once the dear objects of my guilty love;
All other loves are lost in only thine,
O youth, ungrateful to a flame like mine!
Whom would not all those blooming charms sur-
prise, Those heavenly looks, and dear deluding eyes?
The harp and bow would you like Phæbus bear,
A brighter Phæbus Phaon might appear;
Would you with ivy wreathe your flowing hair,
Not Bacchus' self with Phaon could compare :
Yet Phoebus lov’d, and Bacchus felt the flame,
One Daphne warm’d, and one ihe Cretan dame;
Nymphs that in verse no more could rival me,
Than e'en those gods contend in charms with thee.
The Muses teach me all their softest lays,
And the wide world resounds with Sappho's praise.
Though great Alcæus more sublimely sings,
And strikes with bolder rage the sounding strings,
No less renown attends the moving lyre,
Which Venus tunes, and all her loves inspire ;
To me what nature has in charms denied,
Is well by wit's more lasting flames supplied.
Though short my stature, yet my name extends
To heaven itself, and earth's remotest ends.
Brown as I am, an Ethiopian dame
Inspir’d young Perseus with a generous flame;
Turtles and doves of different hues unite,
And glossy jet is pair'd with shining white.
If to no charms thou wilt thy heart resign,
But such as merit, such as equal thine,
By pone, alas ! by none thou canst be mov’d,
Phaon alone by Phaon must be lov'd !
Yet once thy Sappho could thy cares employ,
Once in her arms you centred all your joy :
No time the dear remembrance can remove,
For oh! how vast a memory has love?