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O niglit, more pleasing than the brightest day,
A spring there is, whose silver waters show,
Eternal greens the mossy margin grace,
She spoke, and vanish'd with the voice-I rise,
But why, alas! relentless youth, ah why To distant seas must tender Sappho fly?
Thy charms than those may far more powerful be, And Phæbus' self is less a god to me. Ah! canst thou doom me to the rocks and sea, O far more faithless, and more hard than they? Ah! canst thou rather see this tender breast Dash'd on these rocks, than to thy bosom press'd ? This breast, which once, in vain! you liked so well; Where the loves play'd, and where the muses dwell Alas! the muses now no more inspire; Untuned my lute, and silent is my lyre; My languid numbers have forgot to flow, And fancy sinks beneath a weight of wo. Ye Lesbian virgins, and ye Lesbian dames, Themes of my verse, and objects of my flames, No more your groves with my glad songs shall ring, No more these hands shall touch the trembling string: My Phaon's fled, and I those arts resign, (Wretch that I am, to call that Phaon mine!) Return, fair youth, return, and bring along Joy to my soul, and vigour to my song: Absent from thee, the poet's flame expires ; But ah! how fiercely burn the lover's fires ! Gods! can no prayers, no sighs, no numbers move One savage heart, or teach it how to love ? The winds my prayers, my sighs, my numbers bear The flying winds have lost them all in air! Oh when, alas! shall more auspicious gales To these fond eyes restore thy welcome sails? If you return-ah, why these long delays? Poor Sappho dies while careless Phaon stays. O, launch thy bark, nor fear the watery plain; Venus for thee shall smooth her native main. O, launch thy bark, secure of prosperous gales Cupid for thee shall spread the swelling sails. If you will fly-(yet ah! what cause can be, Too cruel youth, that you should fly from me ?) If not from Phaon I must hope for ease, Ah let me seek it from the raging seas :
To raging seas unpitied I'll remove,
ELOISA TO ABELARD.
ARGUMENT. Abelard and Eloisa flourished in the twelfth century;
they were two of the most distinguished persons of their age in learning and beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate passion. After a long course of calamities they retired each to a several convent, and consecrated the remainder of their days to religion. It was many years after this separation, that a letter of Abelard's to a friend which contained the history of his misfortune, fell into the hands of Eloisa. This awakening all her tenderness, occasioned those celebrated letters (out of which the following is partly extracted) which give sc lively a picture of the struggles of grace and nature virtue and passion.
In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd,
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 witnering 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 10 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,