Laura Sophia Temple


An Elegiac Poem 

Steal on dark silent hour! I love thy sway,
Let others hail the charms of gaudier day ;
More soothing to my heart thy pensive gloom
Than all Morn's golden smiles, or varied bloom.
Thou mock'st me not with gaiety, or glare,
For they ill suit the children of despair,
But when thou hear'st my deep and frequent sigh,
Thy gale replies in mournful sympathy.
What though thou com'st in sombre hues array'd,
What though thou reign'st in sadness and in shade,
Thou bring'st more peace to this deserted breast
Than op'ning Morn in all her splendors drest,
When first she blushes o'er the eastern sky,
And makes each flow'r disclose its richest dye,
Wakens the mantling beauties of the Spring,
And bids OEolian gales their freshness bring;
When mimic Echo hastens from her cave,
And sun-beams dance upon the briny wave;
While rosy health trips lightly o'er the hills
And with her balmy breath each sweet distils.
--What gladness can their smiles to me impart?
What can they offer to a bankrupt heart?
What but the spectres of my happier hours!
The faded hues of pleasure's fairest flow'rs:
Gay, laughing train! that once I call'd my own,
But now, alas! for ever, ever flown.
O pale Remembrance! how thy eager eye
Darts o'er the past with keen rapidity!
Why dost thou speak of days for ever o'er,
Why image joys thou never canst restore?
Why dost thou spread thy tints so fresh and true,
Then hold the well-known portrait to my view?
With cruel care each vanish'd charm recal,
And then remind me that I've lost them all?
Let the lov'd moments in oblivion rest.
Oh! cease to tell me that I once was blest.--
Soft lunar hour! congenial to my soul,
It loves the sweetness of thy mild controul;
It loves the music of the murm'ring stream,
It loves the trembling light of Cynthia's beam;
Listens in silent sadness to the blast
That seems like it to mourn the pleasing past.
Gladly I view the dark and slumb'rous deep,
Oblivion there her empire seems to keep;
Methinks she calls the wretched to invite
To end their sorrows in eternal night:
Say 'tis no crime, when tempests round them rave
To seek the refuge of the silent grave.
Hold! let me check the mad, the impious thought,
And recollect those truths that Virtue taught.
Oh! let me turn and view her beamy form
Still sweetly smiling midst each earthly storm;
Upwards she points, and bids me seek for bliss
In those fair realms where all is happiness:
Where no dark cloud meridian brightness hides,
Where the soul's stream for ever smoothly glides;
Where youthful Hope's gay banners are display'd
And bloomy flowers arise that shall not fade.
But e'er my foot the blissful summit gains
She bids me bear the ills that Heav'n ordains.

Still point then Mem'ry thy envenom'd dart,
Still hold thy empire o'er my writhing heart;
Shew to my view the bliss for ever flown
Wither'd by envious Fate as soon as blown,
Let me again behold the 'witching smile
That once could ev'ry pain and grief beguile,
Then paint the radiance Hope around her threw,
Spread the rich dreams creative Fancy drew,
When she all sanguine check'd the boding sigh,
And deck'd with ev'ry blessing gay Futurity.
Then bring again that melancholy hour
When Fate's bright sky began at length to low'r,
When the fine chords which sympathy had twin'd
That soul to soul with force all-pow'rful bind,
Were rudely snap'd, and o'er the sadden'd green
The lov'd, regretted form, no more was seen.
Yes, Recollection! I will bear thy sting,
Will view the blasted buds of life's fair Spring;
With thee I'll muse o'er ev'ry tender tie,
That graces, soothes, and dignifies humanity.
With thee I'll wander o'er that vernal scene
Where Peace presided once, the smiling Queen.
There let me view the mind's serene repose,
And each soft solace that from friendship flows;
Let me retrace each elegant delight,
Each airy bound of Fancy's wildest flight;
View the lov'd partner of my life's gay dawn
Glowing in all the pride of beauty's morn,
The mantling cheek suffuc'd with health's rich die,
And pleasure beaming in the speaking eye.
Bright orbs! the mirrors of that spotless breast,
There were thy noble energies express'd;
There Genius threw around her dazzl'ing ray,
There gaily danc'd Wit's wild and sportive play;
While awful Virtue shed her chast'ned beam,
And Modesty and Wisdom reign'd supreme.
Where are they now ?--in Death's cold slumber seal'd,
The fatal sentence cannot be repeal'd;
Fled is that fancy which the Muses fir'd,
For ever mute that tongue with Heav'n inspir'd;
Chill'd the fair hand that to our raptur'd eyes
Bade all Creation's brightest charms arise;
Whose liquid cadence, once so soft and clear,
Stole sweetly trembling on the ravish'd ear;
Bade the rapt mind past happiness retrace,
And threw o'er grief a melancholy grace;
Or, when it louder swept the chords, whose art
Could rouse some ardour in the coldest heart.
Fair Star! thou'rt gone to gild a distant shore,
On me, alas! thy radiance smiles no more.
Around I gaze, how chang'd all Nature's face!
How dark that world which thou hast ceas'd to grace!
To me how dark! tho' still the vernal scene
Wears, as before, its softest, gentlest mien.
But where that varying charm whose magic pow'r
Could dress in social smiles the wintry hour,
Lend to the cheek of care joy's mantling hue,
And bid life's waning taper blaze anew?
O beauty, sweetness, ev'ry grace combin'd
That charms the eye, or captivates the mind!
What--what shall fill the void which thou hast left!
What can Creation boast of thee bereft ?
As tho' that gen'rous Orb whose glad'ning ray
Calls into life the slumb'ring sweets of May,
Bids the gay birds their melody resume,
And wide expands fair Summer's living bloom,
No longer smil'd around, but in his stead
Dark desolation all its influence spread,
Soon at whose with'ring touch the landscape fades,
Spring's warbling train no more frequent the shades;
All Nature feels an universal blight,
Veil'd are her graces in eternal night.
But oh bright lamp of day, thou reign'st secure,
Nought can thy lustre quench, thy rays obscure,
And when at eve thy glories drink the wave
And gently sink to rest in Ocean's cave,
We know thou'lt rise again, each laughing flow'r
That pours its fragrance on the morning hour
Lifts its fair head, and waits thy gay return,
Not long thy absence does the garden mourn.
But when shall Hope, soft promiser of rest,
Dawn on the frowning midnight of this breast,
When shew again the fixture to my sight
Glitt'ring with rainbow visions of delight;
When, when shall Fate's black wave no longer roll,
What ray shall thaw this winter of the Soul?
Is there a Spring, by pitying Heav'n design'd
To renovate the verdure of the Mind?
Yes, it shall bloom again, a dawn shall break,--
Hope's warbling notes once more my Soul shall wake;
The shades of night shall quickly fade away,
And on my sight shall burst a radiant day,
These eyes shall open on a smiling shore
Where Fate's rude Wind shall lift its wing no more.

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