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Poem by Mary Wortley Montagu

To a Friend on His Travels

From this vile town, immers'd in smoke and care,
To you who brighten in a purer air,
Your faithful friend conveys her tenderest thought
(Though now perhaps neglected and forgot).
May blooming health your wonted mirth restore,
And every pleasure crown your every hour;
Caress'd, esteem'd, and lov'd, your merit known,
And foreign lands admire you, like your own:
Whilst I in silence various fortunes bear,
Distracted with the rage of bosom-war:
My restless fever tears my changeful brain,
With mix'd ideas of delight and pain;
Sometimes soft views my morning dreams employ
In the faint dawn of visionary joy;
Which rigid reason quickly drives away --
I seek the shade and fly from rising day:
In pleasing madness meet some moment's ease,
And fondly cherish my belov'd disease.
If female weakness melt my woman's mind,
At least no weakness in the choice I find,
Not sooth'd to softness by a warbling flute,
Nor the bought merit of a birthday suit;
Not lost my heart by the surprising skill
In opera tunes, in dancing, or quadrille.
The only charm my inclination moves
Is such a virtue, Heaven itself approves!
A soul superior to each vulgar view,
Great, steady, gentle, generous, and true.
How I regret my trifling hours past,
And look with sorrow oe'r the dreary waste!
In false pursuits and vanity bestow'd,
The perfect image of a dirty road;
Through puddles oft, o'er craggy rocks I stray,
A tiresome dull uncomfortable way:
And after toiling long through thick and thin
To reach some meanly mercenary inn,
The bills are high, and very bad the fare,
I curse the wretched entertainment there:
And, jogging on, resolve to stop no more
Where gaudy signs invite me to the door.

Mary Wortley Montagu

Mary Wortley Montagu's other poems:
  1. An Elegy on Mrs. Thompson
  2. Epigram, 1734
  3. Addressed to ------, 1736
  4. Friday, the Toilette
  5. Epilogue to the Tragedy of Cato

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