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Poem by Anna Laetitia Barbauld


Song 4 (WHEN gentle Celia first I knew)


WHEN gentle Celia first I knew,
A breast so good, so kind, so true,
⁠   Reason and taste approv'd;
Pleas'd to indulge so pure a flame,
I call'd it by too soft a name,
⁠   And fondly thought I lov'd.

Till Chloris came: with sad surprise
I felt the light'ning of her eyes
⁠   Thro' all my senses run;
All glowing with resistless charms,
She fill'd my breast with new alarms,
   ⁠I saw, and was undone.

O Celia! dear unhappy maid,
Forbear the weakness to upbraid
   ⁠Which ought your scorn to move;
I know this beauty false and vain,
I know she triumphs in my pain,
⁠   Yet still I feel I love.

Thy gentle smiles no more can please,
Nor can thy softest friendship ease
⁠   The torments I endure;
Think what that wounded breast must feel
Which truth and kindness cannot heal,
⁠   Nor e'en thy pity cure.

Oft shall I curse my iron chain,
And wish again thy milder reign
   ⁠With long and vain regret;
All that I can, to thee I give,
And could I still to reason live
   ⁠I were thy captive yet.

But passion's wild impetuous sea
Hurries me far from peace and thee;
⁠   'Twere vain to struggle more:
Thus the poor sailor slumbering lies,
While swelling tides around him rise,
⁠   And push his bark from shore.

In vain he spreads his helpless arms,
His pitying friends with fond alarms
⁠   In vain deplore his state;
Still far and farther from the coast,
On the high surge his bark is tost,
⁠   And foundering yields to fate. 



Anna Laetitia Barbauld


Anna Laetitia Barbauld's other poems:
  1. To Miss RЧ, on her Attendance upon her Mother at Buxton
  2. On the Death of Mrs. Jennings
  3. Song 3 (LEAVE me, simple shepherd, leave me)
  4. Backwardness of the Spring 1771
  5. The Origin of Song-Writing


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