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Here all its frailties, all its flames resign,
And wait till 'tis no sin to mix with thine.
Ah wretch! believ'd the spouse of God in vain,
Confess'd within the slave of love and man.
Assist me, heav'n! but whence arose that pray'r?
Sprung it from piety, or from despair?
Ev'n here, where frozen chastity retires,
Love finds an altar for forbidden fires.
I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought;
I mourn the lover, not lament the fault;
I view my crime, but kindle at the view,
Repent old pleasures, and solicit new ;
Now turn'd to heav'n, I weep my past offence,
Now think of thee, and curse my innocence.
Of all affliction taught a lover yet,
'Tis sure the hardest science to forget!
How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense,
And love th' offender, yet detest th' offence?
How the dear object from the crime remove,
Or how distinguish penitence from love?
Unequal task! a passion to resign,
For hearts so touch'd, so pierc'd, so lost as mine.
Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
How often must it love, how often hate!
How often hope, despair, resent, regret,
Conceal, disdain,-do all things but forget.
But let heav'n seize it, all at once 'tis fir'd;
Not touch'd, but rapt; not waken'd, but inspir'd!
Ver. 177. Ah wretch !] From the Letters; as also v. 133; and also v. 251; from the Letters. Epist. ii. p. 67.
Ver. 201. But let heav'n seize it,] Here is the true doctrine of
Oh come! oh teach me nature to subdue,
Renounce my love, my life, myself—and you.
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he
Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.
How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot:
Eternal sun-shine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd; 210
Labour and rest, that equal periods keep;
"Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep ;"
Desires compos'd, affections ever even;
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to heaven.
Grace shines around her, with serenest beams, 215
And whisp'ring Angels prompt her golden dreams.
For her, th' unfading rose of Eden blooms,
And wings of Seraphs shed divine perfumes,
the Mystics. There are many such strains in Crashaw, particularly in a poem called The Flaming Heart, and in the Seraphical Saint Teresa in Crashaw. Warton.
But how beautiful an use has Pope here made of this doctrine! At the same time, nothing is introduced that here offends our serious ideas.
Ver. 212. Obedient slumbers, &c.] Taken from Crashaw. P. Milton also honoured Crashaw by borrowing some lines from his translation of Marino's Slaughter of the Innocents. See Crashaw, in the Letters, vol. vii.
Ver. 215. Grace shines around her.] Dr. Warton, in a note on this passage, has given a long extract on Divine Grace, from the works of Fenelon; a writer of the purest mind and warmest devotional feelings, but surely not to be confounded with such persons as talk of "whispering angels," and "wings of seraphs, that shed divine perfumes ;" and consequently not much honoured by being placed in such company.
Ver. 218. Wings of Seraphs] A late poet, (T. Warton,) speaking of a Hermit at his evening prayers, says beautifully:
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! 230
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. Warton.
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, temples,] Equal to any part of Sappho's Ode, so celebrated by Longinus for an assemblage of striking cir
Ver. 274. Priests, tapers, &c.]
Priests, tapers, temples, swam before my sight,