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Eternal eens the inossy margin grace,
She spoke, and vanish'd with the voice-I rise,
go, ye nymphs! where furious love inspires ; Let female fears submit to female fires. 'To rocks and seas I fly from Phaon's hate, And hope from seas and rocks a milder fate. Ye gentle gales, beneath my body blow, And softly lay me on the waves below! And thou, kind Love, my sinking limbs sustain, Spread thy soft wings, and waft me o'er the main, Nor let a lover's death the guiltless flood profanc? On Phæbus' shrine my harp I'll then bestow, And this inscription shall be plac'd below; Here she who sung, to him who did inspire, Sappho to Phæbus consecrates her lyrc; What suits with Sappho, Phæbus, suits with th:3, The gift, the giver, and the god agree.'
But why, alas! relentless youth, ah why To distant seas must tender Sappho fly?
Thy charms than those may far more powerful bo,
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 so Jively 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 pitying 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 whai eise 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 Aume,
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, Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies. Let wealth, let honour, wait the wedded dame, August her deed, and sacked be her fame ; Before true passion all those views remove; Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to love? The jealous god, when we profane his fires, Those restless passions in revenge inspires, And bids them make mistaken mortals groan, Who seek in love for a gas but love alone. Should at my feet the world's great master fall, Himself, his throne, his world, I'd scorn them all: 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 mitress, make me that to thee! Oh, happy state ! when souls each other draw, When love is liberty, and nature law;