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Relentless walls! whose darksome round contains Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains : Ye rugged rocks! which holy knees have worn; Ye grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid thorn ; Shrines ! where their vigils pale-eyed virgins keep; And pity ng saints, whose statues learn to weep; Though cold like you, unmoved and silent grown, I have not yet forgot myself to stone. All is not Heaven's while Abelard has part: Still rebel nature holds out half my heart; Nor prayers nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain, Nor tears for ages taught to flow in vain.
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose, That well-known name awakens all my woes ; Oh, name for ever sad! for ever dear! Still breathed in sighs, still usher'd with a tear. I tremble too, where'er my own I find, Some dire misfortune follows close behind. Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow, Led through a sad variety of wo: Now warm in love, now withering in my bloom, Lost in a convent's solitary gloom ! There stern religion quench'd the unwilling flame; There died the best of passions, love and fame
Yet write, oh write me all, that I may join Griefs to thy griefs, and echo sighs to thine. Nor foes nor fortune take this power away ; And is my Abelard less kind than they? Tears still are mine, and those I need not spare; Love but demands what else were shed in prayer ; No happier task these faded eyes pursue; To read and weep is all they now can do.
Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief: Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief. Heaven first taught letters for some wretch's aid, Some banish'd lover, or some captive maid ; They live, they speak, they breathe what love inspires, Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires,
The virgin's wish without her fears impart,
Thou know'st how guiltless first I met thy flame,
How oft, when press’d to marriage, have I said;
All then is full, possessing and possess'd,
Alas, how changed! what sudden horrors rise!
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day, When victims at yon altar's foot we lay? Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell, When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell ? As with cold lips I kiss'd the sacred veil, The shrines all trembled, and the lamps grew pale ; Heaven scarce believed the conquest it survey'd, And saints with wonder heard the vows I made. Yet then, to those dread altars as I drew, Not on the cross my eyes were fix'd, but you : Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call; And if I lose thy love, I lose my all. Come, with thy looks, thy words, relieve my woe, Those still at least are left thee to bestow. Still on that breast enamour'd let me lie, Still drink delicious poison from thy eye, Pant on thy lip, and to thy heart be press’d; Give all thou canst—and let me dream the rest. Ah, no! instruct me other joys to prize, With other beauties charm my partial eyes : Full in my view set all the bright abode, And make my soul quit Abelard for God.
Ah ! think at least thy flock deserves thy care, Plants of thy hand, and children of thy prayer.
From the false world in early youth they fled, By thee to mountains, wilds, and deserts led, You raised these hallow'd walls ; the desert smiled And paradise was opend in the wild. No weeping orphan saw his father's stores Our shrines irradiate, or emblaze the floors; No silver saints, by dying misers given, Here bribe the rage of ill-requited Heaven ; But such plain roofs as piety could raise, And only vocal with the Maker's praise. In these lone walls (their day s eternal bound) These moss-grown domes with spiry turrets crownd Where awiul arches make a noon-day night, And the dim windows shed a solemn light, Thy eyes diffused a reconciling ray, And gleams of glory brighten'd all the day: But now no face divine contentment wears ; 'Tis all blank sadness, or continual tears. See how the force of others' prayers I try, (Oh pious fraud of amorous charity!) But why should I on others' prayers depend ? Come thou, my father, brother, husband, friend! Ah, let thy handmaid, sister, daughter, move, And all those tender names in one, thy love! The darksome pines that o'er yon rocks reclined, Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind, The wandering streams that shine between the hills The grots that echo to the tinkling rills, The dying gales that pant upon the trees, The lakes that quiver to the curling breeze; No more these scenes my meditation aid, Or lull to rest the visionary maid: But o'er the twilight groves and dusky caves, Long-sounding aisles, and intermingled graves, Black melancholy sits, and round her throws A death-like silence, and a dread repose ; Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene, Shades every flower, and darkens every green,
Deepens the murmur of the falling floods,
Yet here for ever, ever must I stay ;
Ah, wretch! believed the spouse of God in vain