Charlotte Lennox, “The Rival Nymphs. A Tale”

[CHARLOTTE LENNOX]

 “The Rival Nymphs. A Tale.”

 

Clarissa blest with ev’ry Grace,
A Shape divine, and charming Face,
Had triumph’d long o’er many a Swain,
And oft’ been woo’d, but woo’d in vain;
Not so Amanda, blooming Youth,                                                  5
Soft Innocence, and artless Truth,
Were all the Beauties she cou’d boast,
Not form’d by Nature for a Toast;
Yet some there were, who in her Mind
A thousand nameless Charms cou’d find:                                    10
She lov’d not Visits, Park, or Play,
But mop’d, and read her Time away;
Insensible to a Degree,
Her Heart was all her own, and free;
Yet oft of Love’s soft pleasing Pains,                                             15
The Nymph wou’d write in melting Strains.
The lambent Flame that warm’d her Breast,
Each tender flowing Line confess’d;
Moneses, whose enchanting Form
Was one continu’d endless Charm:                                               20
To whom indulgent Heav’n had join’d,
All that cou’d beautify a Mind;
Had often own’d bright Beauty’s Power,
Had sigh’d and lov’d — for half an Hour.
But yet the lovely Youth confess’d,                                               25
Whoe’er could wound his destin’d Breast,
Her Charms must over Time prevail,
Her Wit must please when Beauty fail’d;
Yet since he cou’d not hope to find,
One blest with all those Charms of Mind;                                    30
He thought Clarissa worth his Care,
And all the Hours he had to spare;
Soft Vows, and tender speaking Eyes,
Pleading Looks, and melting Sighs;
Make the believing Maid approve                                                  35
His false, but well dissembled Love.
But while Clarissa’s Charms he own’d,
He with a secret Passion burn’d.
Amanda found the Way to win
His Heart, and let her Image in;                                                      40
His Pain the lovely Youth conceals,
All but what his Eyes reveals:
His Eyes, that all his Passion tell,
And speak the Love he felt so well.

Amanda heard the Youth complain,                                        45
She heard and felt an equal Flame;
But still with native Shyness arm’d,
She shuns the lovely Swain she charm’d;
His Looks, his Sighs, his Actions move,
And in soft Language plead for Love.                                             50

Clarissa still exults, and cries,
He’s yet a Victim to my Eyes;
He neither will, nor can be free;
Me he still loves, and only Me:
Ah! cease to claim my charming Prize;                                            55
Amanda, to the Fair replies,
Cou’d I, Clarissa, cou’d I boast,
The Hearts that to thy Charms are lost,
With Joy I wou’d them all resign,
To keep my lov’d Moneses mine.                                                        60

In vain the Nymph declares her Flame,
Clarissa still asserts her Claim;
And ‘till the lov’d Moneses owns,
The conqu’ring Maid for whom he burns;
‘Till he’ll the happy Fair unfold,                                                           65
The Sequel must remain untold.

NOTES:

 Title Nymphs “Any of a class of semi-divine spirits, imagined as taking the form of a maiden inhabiting the sea, rivers, mountains, woods, trees, etc., and often portrayed in poetry as attendants on a particular god” (OED).

3 Swain In pastoral poetry, synonymous with a young shepherd.

 17 lambent “Of a flame (fire, light): playing lightly upon or gliding over a surface without burning it, like a ‘tongue of fire’; shining with a soft clear light and without fierce heat” (OED).

 19 Moneses Here a masculine pastoral name, the object of Amanda and Clarissa’s desire.

35 Maid A virgin (OED).

54 loves Corrected from “love’s,” a printer’s error.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions. Written by a Young Lady (London, 1747), pp. 7-11. [Google Books]

 Edited by Sydney Brunner


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