Page images



She stood and cried, "O you that love in vain! "Fly hence, and seek the fair Leucadian main : "There stands a rock from whose impending steep "Apollo's fane surveys the rolling deep; "There injur'd lovers, leaping from above, "Their flames extinguish, and forget to love. "Deucalion once with hopeless fury burn'd, "In vain he lov'd, relentless Pyrrha scorn'd: "But when from hence he plung'd into the main, "Deucalion scorn'd, and Pyrrha lov'd in vain. "Haste, Sappho, haste, from high Leucadio throw "Thy wretched weight, nor dread the deeps below!" She spoke, and vanish'd with the voice....I rise, And silent tears fall trickling from my eyes. I go, ye nymphs! these rocks and seas to prove; How much I fear, but ah, how much I love! I go, ye nymphs! where furious love inspires; Let female fears submit to female fires. To rocks and seas I fly from Phaon's hate, And hope from seas and rocks a milder fate. Ye gentle gales, beneath my body blow, And softly lay me on the waves below! And thou, kind Love, my sinking limbs sustain, Spread thy soft wings, and waft me o'er the main, Nor let a lover's death the guiltless flood profane! On Phœbus' shrine my harp I'll then bestow, And this inscription shall be plac’d below :





"Here she who sung to him that did inspire, "Sappho to Phoebus consecrates her lyre. "What suits with Sappho, Phoebus, suits with thee; "The gift, the giver, and the god agree."


But why, alas! relentless youth, ah why To distant seas must tender Sappho fly? Thy charms than those may far more pow'rful be, And Phoebus' self is less a god to me. Ah! canst thou doom me to the rocks and sea? Oh far more faithless and more hard than they! Ah! canst thou rather see this tender breast Dash'd on these rocks, than to thy bosom press'd? This breast which once, in vain! you lik'd so well; Where the loves play'd, and where the Muses dwell. Alas! the Muses now no more inspire; Untun'd my lute, and silent is my lyre; My languid numbers have forgot to flow, And fancy sinks beneath a weight of woe. Ye Lesbian virgins, and ye Lesbian dames, Themes of my verse, and objects of my flames, No more your groves with my glad songs shall ring, No more these hands shall touch the trembling string: My Phaon's fled, and I those arts resign, 236 (Wretch that I am, to call that Phaon mine!) Return, fair youth, return, and bring along Joy to my soul, and vigour to my song:



Absent from thee the poet's flame expires;
But ah! how fiercely burns the lover's fires!
Gods! can no pray'rs, no sighs, no numbers move
One savage heart, or teach it how to love?

The winds my pray'rs, my sighs, my numbers bear,
The flying winds have lost them all in air! 245
Oh when, alas! shall more auspicious gales
To these fond eyes restore thy welcome sails?
If you return....ah, why these long delays?
Poor Sappho dies, while careless Phaon stays.
O laucnh thy bark, nor fear the watʼry main;
Venus for thee shall smooth her native main.
O launch thy bark, secure of prosp'rous gales;
Cupid for thee shall spread the swelling sails.
If you will fly....yet ah! what cause can be,
Too cruel youth, that you should fly from me?
If not from Phaon I must hope for ease,
Ah let me seek it from the raging seas:
To raging seas unpitied I'll remove,
And either cease to live or cease to love!






Abelard and Eloisa flourished in the twelfth century: they were two of the most distinguished persons of their age in learning and beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate passion. After a long course of calamities, they retired each to a several convent, and consecrated the remainder of their days to religion. It was many years after this separation that a letter of Abelard's to a friend, which contained the history of his misfortune, fell into the hands of Eloisa. This awakening all her tenderness, occasioned those celebrated letters (out of which the following is partly extracted) which give so lively a picture of the struggles of grace and nature, virtue and passion. P.

IN these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav'nly-pensive Contemplation dwells,
And ever-musing Melancholy reigns,
What means this tumult in a vestal's veins ?

Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat? 5
Why feels my heart its long forgotten heat?
Yet, yet I love:....from Abelard it came,
And Eloisa.yet must kiss the name.

Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd,
Nor pass these lips, in holy silence seal'd:
Hide it, my heart, within that close disguise,
Where mix'd with God's, his lov'd idea lies:
O write it not, my hand....the name appears
Already written....wash it out, my tears!
In vain lost Eloisa weeps and prays,
Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys.
Relentless walls! whose darksome round contains
Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains:

Ye rugged rocks! which holy knees have worn;
Ye grots and caverns, shagg'd with horrid thorn! 20
Shrines! where their vigils pale-ey'd virgins keep,
And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep!
Though cold like you, unmov'd and silent grown,
I have not yet forgot myself to stone.

All is not heav'n's while Abelard has part,
Still rebel nature holds out half my heart;
Nor pray'rs nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain,
Nor tears for ages taught to flow in vain.

Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
That well-known name awakens all my woes.






« PreviousContinue »