"Absence " by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)
WHEN from the craggy mountain's pathless steep,
Whose flinty brow hangs o'er the raging sea,
My wand'ring eye beholds the foamy deep,
I mark the restless surge–and think of THEE.
The curling waves, the passing breezes move,
Changing and treach'rous as the breath of LOVE;
The "sad similitude" awakes my smart,
And thy dear image twines about my heart.
When at the sober hour of sinking day,
Exhausted Nature steals to soft repose,
When the hush'd linnet slumbers on the spray,
And scarce a ZEPHYR fans the drooping ROSE;
I glance o'er scenes of bliss to friendship dear,
And at the fond remembrance drop a tear;
Nor can the balmy incense soothe my smart,
Still cureless sorrow preys upon my heart.
When the loud gambols of the village throng,
Drown the lorn murmurs of the ring-dove's throat;
I think I hear thy fascinating song,
Join the melodious minstrel's tuneful note–
My list'ning ear soon tells me –'tis not THEE,
Nor THY lov'd song–nor THY soft minstrelsy;
In vain I turn away to hide my smart,
Thy dulcet numbers vibrate in my heart.
When with the Sylvan train I seek the grove,
Where MAY'S soft breath diffuses incense round,
Where VENUS smiles serene, and sportive LOVE
With thornless ROSES spreads the fairy ground;
The voice of pleasure dies upon mine ear,
My conscious bosom sighs–THOU ART NOT HERE !
Soft tears of fond regret reveal its smart,
And sorrow, restless sorrow, chills my heart.
When at my matin pray'rs I prostrate kneel,
And Court RELIGION's aid to soothe my woe,
The meek-ey'd saint who pities what I feel,
Forbids the sigh to heave, the tear to flow;
For ah ! no vulgar passion fills my mind,
Calm REASON's hand illumes the flame refin'd,
ALL the pure feelings FRIENDSHIP can impart,
Live in the centre of my aching heart.
When at the still and solemn hour of night,
I press my lonely couch to find repose;
Joyless I watch the pale moon's chilling light,
Where thro' the mould'ring tow'r the north-wind blows;
My fev'rish lids no balmy slumbers own,
Still my sad bosom beats for thee alone:
Nor shall its aching fibres cease to smart,
'Till DEATH's cold SPELL is twin'd about my HEART.