"To Rinaldo " by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)
SOFT is the balmy breath of May,
When from the op'ning lids of day
Meek twilight steals; and from its wings
Translucent pearls of ether flings.
MILD is the chaste Moon's languid eye,
When gliding down the dappled sky
She feebly lifts her spangled bow,
Around her glitt'ring darts to throw.–
SWEET are the aromatic bowers,
When Night sends forth refreshing showers
O'er every thirsty fainting bud,
That drinks with joy the grateful flood.
Yet, can the deeply wounded Mind,
From these, no lenient balsam find.–
What can the force of anguish quell,
Where sullen Sorrow loves to dwell,
Where round the bosom's burning throne,
HOPELESS, the mingling PASSIONS groan ?
While thro' each guiv'ring, scorching vein,
Rolls a revolving tide of pain;
That struggling with the Storms of FATE,
Provokes her darkest, direst, HATE.
O, BARD ADMIR'D ! if ought could move
The soul of Apathy to love;
If, o'er my aching, bleeding breast,
Ought could diffuse the balm of rest,
The pow'r is thine –for oh ! thy lays
Warm'd by thy Mind's transcendent blaze,
Dart thro' my frame with force divine,
While all my rending woes combine,
And thronging round thy glorious LYRE,
In momentary bliss EXPIRE.
So, the meek ROSE, that droops forlorn,
Opes its cold breast to meet the morn,
And shaking round a brilliant show'r,
Tempts the bright SUN'S meridian pow'r;
Trembling, its blushing cheek receives
The glowing kiss warms PHOEBUS gives;
Yet, to his fire unconscious flies,
And midst his burning glances, DIES.
Why wilt thou fly ?–why give thy form
To the pale phantoms of the storm,
And from the dizzy madd'ning steep
Dash thy proud harp–while o'er the deep
Each envious FIEND shall fiercely glare,
And howling, mock thy RASH DESPAIR !
Ah! wherefore, prodigal of FAME,
Damp with thy tears the MUSE'S flame ?
Say, dost thou think, as the soft show'r
Checks the wing'd lightning's fervid pow'r,
To quell the transports of Thy Lyre,
And with cold Sorrow quench its fire ?
Know, BARD SUPREME ! thy wond'rous song
Doth not to mortal power belong;
The flame, that to thy care is giv'n,
Owns an eternal source in Heav'n;
And like thy PURE, ILLUSTRIOUS Soul,
SHALL LIVE, beyond thy weak controul.
YES, I will lead thee to some rock,
Whose frowns the dashing billows mock;
While the fierce LORD OF LIGHT shall reign
DESPOTIC o'er th' ethereal plain.–
Or when his fiery coursers fly
On red wings down the Western sky;
While Ocean's curling waves unfold,
In one vast sheet of liquid gold;
Then shalt thou mark CREATION'S pride
In slow and trembling tints subside,
'Till darkness stealing o'er the globe,
Unfurls its sable spangled robe.
Then shall thy conscious feelings find
An emblem of the Human Mind;
How grand, ineffable and bright,
When all its lustrous fires unite:
But when chill sorrow spreads its snare,
And tempts its victim to DESPAIR,
All, all its proud perfections fade
In black, oblivion's baneful shade.
O, SUN OF GENIUS ! pierce the cloud
That dares thy radiant glories shroud;
Turn, turn thy course to bowers of joy,
Where rob'd in Bliss, the Angel Boy
Shall spread each witching, nameless sweet,
Thy truant, wand'ring heart to greet;
There, pour thy soul in faithful vows,
While thy own LAUREL'S deathless boughs
From each blest leaf shall drop a tear
To bathe the wounds of love sincere.
There, some chaste maid shall list thy lays
In speechless eloquence of praise;
And with her soft eye's melting glance
Infold thee in delicious trance.
And when her heart's celestial shrine
Shall burn with passion warm as thine,
Then, shalt thou feel the rapt'rous glow,
Which none, but souls like THINE, CAN KNOW;
Then, shalt thou hear her tongue declare,
THOU ART NOT FORM'D FOR COLD DESPAIR.
From ME the barb'rous fates unite
To wrest each vision of delight;
No gleam of joy my sad-heart knows,
No interval of calm repose;
Save, when thy LOV'D SERAPHIC Strain
Thrills thro' my breast, with quiv'ring pain;
And bids each throbbing pulse deplore,
That "IF I E'ER COULD PLEASE,–I PLEASE NO MORE."