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For her the Spouse prepares the bridal ring,
For her white virgins Hymeneals sing,
To sounds of heav'nly harps she dies away,
And melts in visions of eternal day.
Far other dreams my erring soul employ,
Far other raptures, of unholy joy?
When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day, 225
Fancy restores what vengeance snatch'd away,
Then conscience sleeps, and leaving nature free,
All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee.
Oh curst, dear horrors of all-conscious night!
How glowing guilt exalts the keen delight!
Provoking Demons all restraint remove,
And stir within me every source of love.
I hear thee, view thee, gaze o'er all thy charms,
And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms.
I wake :-no more I hear, no more I view,
The phantom flies me, as unkind as you.
I call aloud; it hears not what I say:
I stretch my empty arms; it glides away.
To dream once more I close my willing eyes;
Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise;
Then, as my taper waxes dim,
Chant ere I sleep my measur'd hymn;
And, at the close, the gleams behold,
Of parting wings bedropt with gold.
Ver. 219. For her] Copied exactly from the opinions and ideas of the Mystics and Quietists. There were but six Vestal Virgins at Rome; and it was with great difficulty the number was kept up, from the dread of the punishment for violating the vow, which was to be interred alive.
Alas, no more! methinks we wand'ring go
Through dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe,
Where round some mould'ring tow'r pale ivy creeps,
And low-brow'd rocks hang nodding o'er the deeps.
Sudden you mount, you beckon from the skies; 245
Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise.
I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find,
And wake to all the griefs I left behind.
For thee the fates, severely kind, ordain
A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain; 250
Thy life a long dead calm of fix'd repose;
No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows.
Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow,
Or moving spirit bade the waters flow;
Soft as the slumbers of a saint forgiv'n,
And mild as op'ning gleams of promis'd heav'n.
Come, Abelard! for what hast thou to dread?
The torch of Venus burns not for the dead.
Nature stands check'd; Religion disapproves;
Ev'n thou art cold-yet Eloisa loves.
Ah hopeless, lasting flames; like those that burn
To light the dead, and warm th' unfruitful urn.
What scenes appear where'er I turn my view? The dear Ideas, where I fly, pursue,
Ver. 241. Methinks we wand'ring] I have been sometimes inclined to think, that some vision more appropriated, and drawn from her peculiar distress, would have been more striking. Virgil adds to Dido's dream a circumstance beautifully drawn from her own story:
And seeks her Tyrians o'er the waste in vain. Warton.
Rise in the grove, before the altar rise,
Stain all my soul, and wanton in my eyes.
I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee,
Thy image steals between my God and me,
Thy voice I seem in ev'ry hymn to hear,
With ev'ry bead I drop too soft a tear.
When from the censer clouds of fragrance roll,
And swelling organs lift the rising soul,
One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight,
Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight;
In seas of flame my plunging soul is drown'd, 275
While Altars blaze, and Angels tremble round.
While prostrate here in humble grief I lie,
Kind, virtuous drops just gath'ring in my eye,
While praying, trembling, in the dust I roll,
And dawning grace is op'ning on my soul:
Come, if thou dar'st, all charming as thou art!
Oppose thyself to heav'n; dispute my heart:
Come, with one glance of those deluding eyes
Blot out each bright Idea of the skies;
Take back that grace, those sorrows, and those
Take back my fruitless penitence and pray'rs ;
Ver. 274. Priests, tapers, &c.]
"Priests, tapers, temples, swam before my sight,
Altars, and victims
Ver. 274. Priests, tapers, temples,] Equal to any part of Sappho's Ode, so celebrated by Longinus for an assemblage of striking cirWarton.
Smith's Phædra and Hippolitus. Bowles.
Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode;
Assist the fiends, and tear me from my God!
No, fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole;
Rise alps between us! and whole oceans roll! 290
Ah, come not, write not, think not once of me,
Nor share one pang of all I felt for thee.
Thy oaths I quit, thy memory resign;
Forget, renounce me, hate whate'er was mine.
Fair eyes, and tempting looks, (which yet I view!)
Long lov'd, ador'd ideas, all adieu !
Oh Grace serene! oh virtue heav'nly fair!
Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care!
Fresh-blooming hope, gay daughter of the sky!
And Faith, our early immortality!
Enter, each mild, each amicable guest:
Receive, and wrap me in eternal rest!
See in her cell sad Eloisa spread,
Propt on some tomb, a neighbour of the dead.
In each low wind methinks a Spirit calls,
And more than Echoes talk along the walls.
Here, as I watch'd the dying lamps around,
From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound.
"Come, sister, come! (it said, or seem'd to say)
"Thy place is here, sad sister, come away;
Ver. 298. low-thoughted care!] An epithet from Milton's Comus: Warton.
Ver. 308. a hollow sound.] Though Virgil evidently gave the hint: (Hinc exaudiri voces et verba vocantis visa viri. l. 4. p. 460.) yet this call of some sister, that had been involved in a similar distress, appears more solemn and interesting.
"Once like thyself, I trembl'd, wept, and pray'd, "Love's victim then, tho' now a sainted maid : "But all is calm in this eternal sleep;
"Here grief forgets to groan, and love to weep,
"Ev'n superstition loses every fear:
"For God, not man, absolves our frailties here."
I come, I come! prepare your roseate bow'rs,
Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flow'rs;
Thither, where sinners may have rest, I go,
Where flames refin'd in breasts seraphic glow: 320
Thou, Abelard! the last sad office pay,
And smooth my passage to the realms of day:
See my lips tremble, and my eye-balls roll,
Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul!
Ah no-in sacred vestments may'st thou stand, 325
The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand,
Present the Cross before my lifted eye,
Teach me at once, and learn of me to die.
Ah then, thy once-lov'd Eloisa see!
It will be then no crime to gaze on me.
See from my cheek the transient roses fly!
See the last sparkle languish in my eye!
'Till every motion, pulse, and breath be o'er;
And ev'n my Abelard be lov'd no more.
h Death all-eloquent! you only prove
What dust we doat on, when 'tis man we love.
Then too, when fate shall thy fair frame destroy, (That cause of all my guilt, and all my joy) In trance extatic may thy pangs be drown'd, Bright clouds descend, and Angels watch thee round,