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Where were ye, Muses, when relentless Fate
From these fond arms your fair disciple tore;
From these fond arms, that vainly strove
With hapless ineffectual love
To guard her bosom from the mortal blow?
Could not your favouring power, Aonian maids, Could not, alas ! your power prolong her date,
For whom so oft in these inspiring shades,
Or under Campden's moss-clad mountains hoar,
You open'd all your sacred store,
Whate'er your ancient sages taught,
Your ancient bards sublimely thought,
And bade her raptur'd breast with all your spirit glow?
Nor then did Pindus or Castalia's plain,
Or Aganippe's fount, your steps detain,
Nor in the Thespian vallies did you play ;
Nor then on Mincio's bank
Beset with osiers dank,
Nor where Clitumnus rolls his gentle stream,
Nor where, through hanging woods,
Steep Anio pours his floods,
Nor yet where Meles or Ilissus stray,
Ill does it now beseem,
That, of your guardian care bereft,
To dire disease and death your darling should be left.
Now what avails it that in early bloom,
When light fantastic toys
Are all her sex's joys, With you she search'd the wit of Greece and Rome;
And all that in her latter days,
To emulate her ancient praise, Italia's happy genius could produce;
Or what the Gallic fire
Bright sparkling could inspire,
By all the Graces temper'd and refin'd;
Or what in Britain's isle,
Most favour'd with your smile,
The powers of Reason and of Fancy join'd
To full perfection have conspir'd to raise ?
Ah ! what is now the use Of all these treasures that enrich'd her mind, To black Oblivion's gloom for ever now consign'd? At least, ye Nine, her spotless name
'Tis yours from death to save,
And in the temple of immortal Fame
With golden characters her worth engrave.
Come then, ye virgin sisters, come,
And strew with choicest flowers her ballow'd tomb :
But foremost thou, in sable vestment clad,
With accents sweet and sad,
Thou, plaintive Muse, whom o'er his Laura's urn
Unhappy Petrarch call'd to mourn ;
O come, and to this fairer Laura pay
A more impassion'd tear, a more pathetic lay.
Tell how each beauty of her mind and face
Was brighten'd by some sweet peculiar grace!
How eloquent in every look
Through her expressive eyes her soul distinctly spoke!
Tell how her manners, by the world refin'd,
Left all the taint of modish vice behind,
And made each charm of polish'd courts agree
With candid Truth's simplicity,
And uncorrupted Innocence!
Tell how to more than manly sense
She join'd the softening influence
Of more than female tenderness :
How, in the thoughtless days of wealth and joy,
Which oft the care of others' good destroy,
Her kindly-melting heart,
To every want and every woe,
To Guilt itself when in distress,
The balm of pity would impart,
And all relief that bounty could bestow!
E'en for the kid or lamb that pour'd its life
Beneath the bloody knife,
Her gentle tears would fall, Tears from sweet Virtue's source, benevolent to all.
Not only good and kind,
But strong and elevated was her mind ;
A spirit that with noble pride
Could look superior down
On Fortune's smile or frown;
That could without regret or pain
To Virtue's lowest duty sacrifice
Or Interest or Ambition's highest prize;
That, injur'd or offended, never tried
Its dignity by vengeance to maintain,
But by magnanimous disdain.
A wit that, temperately bright,
With inoffensive light
All pleasing shone ; nor ever past
The decent bounds that Wisdom's sober hand,
And sweet Benevolence's mild command,
And bashful Modesty, before it cast.
A prudence undeceiving, undeceiv'd,
That nor too little nor too much believ'd,
That scorn'd unjust Suspicion's coward fear,
And without weakness knew to be sincere.
Such Lucy was, when, in her fairest days,
Amidst the acclaim of universal praise,
In life's and glory's freshest bloom,
Death came remorseless on, and sunk her to the tomb.
So, where the silent streams of Liris glide,
In the soft bosom of Campania's vale,
When now the wintery tempests all are fled,
And genial Summer breathes her gentle gale,
The verdant orange lifts its beauteous head:
From every branch the balmy flowerets rise,
On every bough the golden fruits are seen;
With odours sweet it fills the smiling skies,
The wood-nymphs tend it, and the' Idalian queen.
But, in the midst of all its blooming pride,
A sudden blast from Apenninus blows,
Cold with perpetual snows:
The tender blighted plant shrinks up its leaves,
Arise, o Petrarch, from the Elysian bowers,
With never-fading myrtles twin'd,
And fragrant with ambrosial flowers,
Where to thy Laura thou again art join'd;
Arise, and hither bring the silver lyre,
Tun'd by the skilful hand
To the soft notes of elegant desire,
With which o'er many a land
Was spread the fame of thy disastrous love;
To me resign the vocal shell,
And teach my sorrows to relate
Their melancholy tale so well,
As may e'en things inanimate,
Rough mountain oaks and desert rocks, to pity move.
What were, alas ! thy woes compar'd to mine?
To thee thy mistress in the blissful band
Of Hymen never gave her hand;
The joys of wedded love were never thine.
In thy domestic care
She never bore a share,
Nor with ,endearing art
Would heal thy wounded heart
Of every secret grief that fester'd there :
Nor did her fond affection on the bed
of sickness watch thee, and thy languid head
Whole nights on her unwearied arm sustain,
And charm away the sense of pain :
Nor did she crown your mutual flame With pledges dear, and with a father's tender name, O best of wives! O dearer far to me
Than when thy virgin charms
Were yielded to my arms,
How can my soul endure the loss of thec?
How in the world, to me a desert grown,
Abandon'd and alone,
Without my sweet companion can I live?
Without thy lovely smile,
The dear reward of every virtuous toil,
What pleasures now can pall'd Ambition give?
E'en the delightful sense of well-earn'd praise, Unshar'd by thee, no more my lifeless thoughts
For my distracted mind
What succour can I find ?
On whom for consolation shall I call?
Support me, every friend;
Your kind assistance lend,
To bear the weight of this oppressive woe.
Alas! each friend of mine,
My dear departed love, so much was thine,
That none has any comfort to bestow.
My books, the best relief
In every other grief,
Are now with your idea sadden'd all :
Each favourite author we together read
My tortur'd memory wounds, and speaks of Lucy
We were the happiest pair of human kind :
The rolling year its varying course perform’d,
And back return'd again;
Another and another smiling came,
And saw our happiness unchang'd remain :
Still in her golden chain
Harmonious Concord did our wishes bind :
Our studies, pleasures, taste, the same.
O fatal, fatal stroke,
That all this pleasing fabric Love had rais'd
Of rare felicity,
On which e'en wanton Vice with envy gaz'd,
And every scheme of bliss our hearts had form'd,
With soothing hope, for many a future day,
In one sad moment broke !
Yet, O my soul, thy rising murmurs stay;
Nor dare the all-wise Disposer to arraign,
Or against his supreme decree
With impious grief complain.
That all thy full-blown joys at once should fade,
Was his most righteous will-and be that will obey'd.