"Love and Fame." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
Fame first, a silver trumpet fills,
With one shrill blast inspiring:
It rang and echoed round the hills:–
The maiden stood admiring;
Yet startled, trembled, at the blast;
But listened, till she smiled at last.
With timid voice and pleading eyes,
Love told his gentle story;
But while he spoke of pains and sighs,
His rival talked of glory:
Fame strove a brighter flame to prove;
But looked not so sincere as Love.
The maiden stood with changing hue,
Their various language heeding;
To Fame she gave attention due;
But when poor Love was pleading,
Assumed an aspect more severe,
And scarcely seemed to lend an ear.
When love confessed his secret flames,
And told of pangs inflicted,
Fame boasted of superior claims,
And boldly contradicted:
At length the contest warmer grew,
And words ran high between the two.
Fame talked of sway in distant years,
When Love would laugh and leave her;
Love looked indignant through his tears,
Exclaiming–you deceive her!
Ah, what so fickle as thy breath!
But I am faithful–strong as death.
In age, when you and friendship fly,
And leave to gloom and sadness,
I live to gild the wintry sky
With many a beam of gladness:
Yes, I would cheer her to the last,
When silent was your faithless blast.
But you, said Fame, have cares and strife,
To cloud each gloomy morrow:–
And I allay the ills of life,
Said Love, and sweeten sorrow;
And one soft word of mine can soothe,
And make its stormy current smooth.
I boast, said Fame, of hope and pride;
And triumph in my treasures;
And I have pleasures, Love replied–
Such peaceful, sacred pleasures
As you (although triumphant still)
Did never yield, nor ever will.
Yes, and the pleasures that I bring
(While feeling's power endures)
More sweetly blend–more closely cling
To woman's heart, than yours.
You may perchance her favor buy;
But nature sanctions not the tie.
The maiden wearied with debate,
Arrests the fierce contention:
One anxious moment does but wait,
In agonized suspension:–
Then urged by doubt, by pride, by shame,
She sighed, and gave her hand to Fame.