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How oft, when press’d to marriage, have I said, Curse on all laws but those which love has
made! Love, free as air, at sight of human ties, 75 Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies. Let wealth, let honor wait the wedded dame, August her deed, and sacred be her fame: Before true passion all those views remove; Fame, wealth, and honor! what are you to Love? The jealous god, when we profane his fires, 81 Those restless passions in revenge inspires; And bids them make mistaken mortals groan, Who seek in love for aught but love alone. Should at my feet the world's great master fall, Himself, his throne, his world, I'd scorn them all:
86 Not Cæsar's empress would I deign to prove; No, make me mistress to the man I love: If there be yet another name more free, More fond than mistress, make me that to thee. 0, happy state! when souls each other draw, 91 When love is liberty, and nature law : All then is full, possessing and possess’d, No craving void left aching in the breast :
88 No, make me mistress to the man I love. This monstrous sentiment is scarcely justified by the original. Eloisa merely puts a case :-'If Augustus should offer me the honors of matrimony, and the world along with it, I should think it dearer, and more honorable, to be called your mistress than his empress.' The often quoted, and untrue sentiment, that love is inconsistent with the common obligations of society, is perhaps borrowed from Chaucer :
Love will not be confined by maisterie :
Ev’n thought meets thought, ere from the lips it part;
95 And each warm wish springs mutual from the
heart. This sure is bliss, if bliss on earth there be ; And once the lot of Abelard and me.
Alas, how changed ! what sudden horrors rise ! A naked lover bound and bleeding lies! 100 Where, where was Eloise ? her voice, her hand, Her poniard had opposed the dire command. Barbarian, stay! that bloody stroke restrain; The crime was common, common be the pain. I can no more: by shame, by rage suppress'd, 105 Let tears and burning blushes speak the rest.
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, 111 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, 115 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 wo; Those still at least are left thee to bestow : 120
119 Come, with thy looks. The original here simply applies to the letters of Abelard :- Listen, I beseech you,' says Eloisa, 'to what I ask : you will see it to be but little, and, to you, of the easiest kind : while I am deprived of your presence, give me the happiness of your presence by your words, in which you are so affluent: how shall I expect to find you liberal in reality, if in words I find you penurious ?'
Still on that breast enamor'd let me lie,
crown'd, Where awful 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;
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 ;— 160 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 isles, and intermingled graves, Black Melancholy sits, and round her throws 165 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, And breathes a browner horror on the woods. 170
Yet here for ever, ever must I stay; Sad proof how well a lover can obey ! Death, only death, can break the lasting chain ; And here, ev’n then, shall my cold dust remain ; Here all its frailties, all its flames resign; 175 And wait till 'tis no sin to mix with thine.
Ah, wretch ! believed the spouse of God in vain, Confess'd within the slave of love and man!. Assist me, Heaven! but whence arose that prayer? Sprung it from piety or from despair ? 180
Ev'n here, where frozen chastity retires,
• 201 But let Heaven seize it. The sect of the Quietists, who chiefly placed religion in hysteric raptures, was much talked of at this period: Fenelon, whose heart was evidently more vivid than his understanding, made himself conspicuous, and in some degree ridiculous, by the human ardor of his spiritual transports. Madame Guyon, with whom he corresponded, was an enthusiast still more removed from rationality, and still more likely to have mistaken dreams for inspiration : but this union of lover-like passion with ascetic piety was common and favorite in the times of foreign saintship. Pope had read Crashaw, whose poems on this subject are almost amatory; and he even takes from him intire the touching line,
Obedient slumbers, that can wake and weep.