"To Mad. de Stael." by Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
O WOMAN, greatly gifted! why
Wert thou not gifted from on high?
What had that noble genius done–
That knew all hearts–all things, but one,
–Had that been known? O, would it might
Be whispered, here she took her flight!
Where, where is that fine spirit hurled,
That seemed unmeet for either world?
While o'er thy magic page I bend,
I know thee–claim thee for my friend:
With thee a secret converse hold,
And see my inmost thoughts unfold.
Each notion crude, defined–expressed;
And certain, what I vaguely guessed.
And hast thou taught, with cruel skill,
The art to suffer better still:–
Grief's finest secret to explore,
Though understood too well before?
Ah well, I'd thank thee if I might;
Although so wrong, thou art so right!
While I condemn, my heart replies,
And deeper feelings sympathize.
Thy view of life–that painful view,
How false it is!–and yet how true!
"Life without love–a cheerless strife;
Yet love so rarely given to life."
And why must truth and virtue, why,
This mighty claim of love deny?
–What was this earth, so full, so fair?–
A cheerless desert, bleak, and bare–
God knew it was–till love was there.
Say, has the heart a glance at bliss–
One–till it glance or gaze at this?
Ah no! unblessed, unsoothed the lot,
Fair though it seem, that knows it not!
'T is true!–and to the truth replies
A thousand joyless hearts and eyes;–
Eyes beamless–hearts that do not break–
They cannot–but that always ache;
And slowly wither, day by day,
Till life at last is dried away.
"Love or Religion;" yes, she knew,
Life has no choice but 'twixt the two:
But when she sought that balm to find,
She guessed and groped; but still was blind.
Aloft she flew, yet failed to see
Aught but an earthly deity.
The humble Christian's holy love,
O, how it calmly soars above
These storms of passion!–Yes, too much
I've felt her talent's magic touch.
Return, my soul, to that retreat
From sin and wo–thy Savior's feet!
There learn an art she never knew,
The heart's own empire to subdue:–
A large, but willing sacrifice.
All to resign that He denies;–
To him in meek submission bend;
Own Him an all-sufficient friend;
Here, and in holy worlds above,
My portion–and my only love!
September 23, 1822.