"To the Same, on her Birth-day." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
MUCH wishing, dear Susan, I something could say
Expressive of friendship and joy on this day,
I sent an express, my shy muse to invite,
And waited, in very necessitous plight;
But being on higher employment intent,
A truly discouraging message she sent–
That all applications at present were vain,
On account of a certain poetical swain,
Who now has some business to do in her way,
That must be completed by Susan's birth-day.
So bowing submissive, with diffidence due,
I determined to try what alone I could do.
But hard was the task;–not a wish could I bend
In the shape of a line with a rhyme at the end.
And though the north wind has been blowing all day,
Not one single thought has it wafted this way.
I went to the window, since nature's green vest
Some feeling poetic is wont to suggest.
But drear was the prospect that waited me there;
I looked at the trees, but their branches were bare;
And I nearly had given it up in despair,
When a little pale star through the twilight that shone,
Smiled kindly upon me, and bid me go on.
"But tell me, sweet star, will thy beams as they play,
Inspire my dull brain with some fanciful lay?"
'T was silent–but, sparkling and darting its rays,
It seemed to invite and encourage my gaze;
And as I continued its beams to explore,
They brightened and dazzled each moment the more.
Yet it seemed not to shine its own path to adorn,
But to guide the benighted, and cheer the forlorn.
My Susan! but no–you forbid me the rest:
Yet suffer the wish that escapes from my breast;
O may the bright beams that thy virtues display,
Direct my dark steps through the shadowy way.