A Celebration of Women Writers

"To Mrs. L." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
Publication: The Writings of Jane Taylor, In Five Volumes by Jane Taylor. Volume I, Memoirs and Poetical Remains.. Edited by Isaac Taylor, Jr., of Stanford Rivers. Boston: Perkins & Marvin, 1832. pp. 292-294.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

TO MRS. L.

WHY is it that my friend and I,
Look forth on life so variously?
She, on the present, future, past,
A sanguine smile is prone to cast:

[Page 293] 

–I weep o'er scenes for ever fled;
The impending future wait with dread;
And see the present moment fly,
With languid, listless apathy.

  'T is not that when our course was planned,
'T was done with such a partial hand
As strewed, for long succeeding years,
Thy path with flowers, and mine with tears:
For grief has aimed a shaft at thee;
And joy in turn has glanced at me.
E'en should the self-same path be ours,
Set with alternate weeds and flowers,
You from its entrance to its close,
Would point at these, and I at those.
In gathering clouds that o'er us form,
You greet a shade, I bode a storm–
Still choosing to expect the worst;
Since clouds are clouds, and often burst.
Yet soon, you say, they pass, and O,
How cheering is the faithful bow!
Thus argues each; and all the while
I weep;–and you persist to smile.

  If in the depth of nature's laws
Philosophy should seek the cause,
Perhaps the whole might be descried
In movements of the crimson tide;
As brisk or fainting pulses show
Its rapid, or its tardy flow.

  Howe'er that be, it might be wise
To form a mutual compromise–
Or friendly firm, combining so,

[Page 294] 

Hope, Fear, Indifference, Care and Co.
Then would concessions fair and true,
Encourage me, attemper you.
You would hope's guile allow, and I,
That fear exceeds reality:–
You, that all gladness shows alloy;
And I, that grief is dashed with joy:–
Care, too distrustful, I confess;
And you, a treacherous sanguineness.
When thus opposed extremes unite,
The aggregate will just be right:
The sanguine smile is checked by fear;
A hope shall glitter through a tear.

  April, 1820.

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom