Tag Archives: lyric

Ann Yearsley, “Soliloquy”

ANN YEARSLEY

Soliloquy

 

—What folly to complain,
Or throw my woes against the face of Heaven?
Ills, self-created, prey upon my soul,
And rob each coming hour of soften’d Peace.
What then? Is Fate to blame? I chose distress;                                   5
Free will was mine; I might have still been happy
From a fore-knowledge of the dire effect,
And the sad bondage of resistless love.
I knew the struggles of a wounded mind,
Not self-indulging, and not prone to vice,                                           10
Knew all the terrors of conflicting passion,
Too stubborn foe, and ever unsubdu’d;
Yet rashly parley’d with the mighty victor.
Infectious mists upon my senses hang,
More deadly than LETHEAN dews which fall                                        15
From SOMNUS’ bough, on the poor wearied wretch,
Whose woes are fully told!—
The dire contagion creeps thro’ all my frame,
Seizes my heart, and drinks my spirit up.
Ah! fatal poison, whither dost thou tend?                                              20
Tear not my soul with agonizing pains;
There needs no more; the world to me is lost,
And all the whirl of life-unneeded thrift.
I sicken at the Sun, and fly his beams,
Like some sad ghost which loves the moonless night,                         25
And pensive shuns the morn. The deep recess.
Where dim-ey’d Melancholy silent sits,
Beckoning the poor desponding slighted wretch,
Suits well. ‘Tis here I find a gloomy rest;
‘Tis here the fool’s loud clatter leaves me still,                                       30
Nor force unwilling answers to their tale:
But, ah! this gloom, this lethargy of thought,
Yields not repose; I sigh the hour away;
The next rolls on, and leaves me still opprest.
But, oh! swift-footed Time, thou ceaseless racer,                                   35
Thou who hast chac’d five thousand years before thee,
With all their great events, and minute trifles,
Haste, with redoubled speed, bring on the hour,
When dark Oblivion’s dusky veil shall shroud
Too painful Memory. —                                                                               40

NOTES:

15 LetheanPertaining to the river Lethe; hence, pertaining to or causing oblivion or forgetfulness of the past” (OED).

16 Somnus Roman god of sleep.

23 thrift “Means of thriving; industry, labour; profitable occupation” or “prosperous growth; physical thriving” (OED).

38 Redoubled “To double (a thing) for a second or further time; (also) to double repeatedly” (OED).

Source: Poems, on Several Occasions, fourth edition (London, 1786), pp. 58-60.  [Google Books]

 Edited by Willis Plowman

Charlotte Lennox, “A Hymn to Venus, in Imitation of Sappho”

[CHARLOTTE LENNOX]

“A Hymn to Venus, in Imitation of Sappho”

 

Venus, Queen of tender Fires,
Pleasing pains and soft Desires;
Sweet enslaver of the Heart,
Here thy gentle aid impart;
To my mourning Soul give Ease,                                   5
And I bid my soft Complainings cease.

II.
Hither beauteous Goddess move,
Leave a while th’ ​Idalian G​rove;
Once more to my transported Breast,
Come a mild, a grateful Guest;                                       10
There confirm thy pleasing Reign,
Free from Cares, and free from Pain.

III.
Oh! if e’er my artless Strains,
By Thee inspired, breath’d thy Pains;
Propitious now thy Suppliant hear,                                 15
And grant a Lover’s ardent Pray’r?
Ah! let me not despairing mourn,
But meet a kind, a wish’d Return.

IV.
Make Philander​ feel my Pow’r,
Fear my Scorn, my Smiles adore,                                   20
Let the dear Deceiver know,
All the Pains he can bestow:
To me that valued Heart resign,
And fix my lovely Wand’rer mine.

NOTES:

Title Venus​ “The ancient Roman goddess of beauty and love” (​OED​); ​Sappho ​(c.610-570 BCE) A Greek lyric poet who was born on the island of Lesbos, famous for her writing style (Encyclopedia Britannica).

8Idalian​ “Belonging or relating to the ancient town of Idalium in Cyprus,” where, in the Roman tradition, Venus was worshipped (​OED​).

13​ Strains​ Poetry.

15 ​Propitious​ “Disposed to be favourable; gracious; merciful, lenient” (​OED); Suppliant “​ A person who makes a humble or earnest plea to another, esp. to a person in power or authority” (​OED).

19 Philander “​ Chiefly poetic,…a male sweetheart” (​OED​).

Source: ​Poems on Several Occasions.  W​ritten by a Young Lady (London, 1747), pp. 13-14.  [Google Books]

Edited by Andrea Cruz

James Beattie, “The Hermit”

JAMES BEATTIE

“The HERMIT”

At the close of the day, when the hamlet is still,
And mortals the sweets of forgetfulness prove,
When nought but the torrent is heard on the hill,
And nought but the nightingale’s song in the grove:
’Twas then, by the cave of the mountain afar,                                               5
A Hermit his song of the night thus began;
No more with himself or with nature at war,
He thought as a Sage, while he felt as a Man.

“Ah, why thus abandon’d to darkness and woe,
Why thus, lonely Philomel, flows thy sad strain?                                            10
For Spring shall return, and a lover bestow,
And thy bosom no trace of misfortune retain.
Yet, if pity inspire thee, ah cease not thy lay!
Mourn, sweetest Complainer, Man calls thee to mourn:
O soothe him, whose pleasures like thine pass away—                               15
Full quickly they pass,—but they never return.

Now gliding remote, on the verge of the sky,
The Moon half extinguish’d her crescent displays:
But lately I mark’d, when majestie on high
She shone, and the planets were lost in her blaze.                                        20
Roll on, thou fair orb, and with gladness pursue
The path that conducts thee to splendour again.—
But Man’s faded glory no change shall renew.
Ah fool! to exult in a glory so vain!

‘Tis night, and the landscape is lovely no more;                                              25
I mourn, but, ye woodlands, I mourn not for you;
For morn is approaching, your charms to restore,
Perfumed with fresh fragrance, and glittering with dew.
Nor yet for the ravage of winter I mourn;
Kind Nature the embryo blossom will save.—                                                 30
But when shall Spring visit the mouldering urn!
O when shall it dawn on the night of the grave!”

“‘Twas thus, by the glare of false Science betray’d,
That leads, to bewilder; and dazzles, to blind,
My thoughts wont to roam, from shade onward to shade,                           35
Destruction before me, and sorrow behind.’
“O pity, great Father of light,” then I cry’d,
“Thy creature who fain would not wander from Thee!
Lo, humbled in dust, I relinquish my pride:
From doubt and from darkness thou only canst free.”                                   40

‘And darkness and doubt are now flying away.
No longer I roam in conjecture forlorn.
So breaks on the traveller, faint, and astray,
The bright and the balmy effulgence of morn.
See Truth, Love and Mercy, in triumph descending,                                         45
And Nature all glowing in Eden’s first bloom!
On the cold cheek of Death smiles and roses are blending,
And Beauty Immortal awakes from the tomb.’

NOTES:

Title Hermit “A solitary; an anchoret; one who retires from society to contemplation and devotion” (Johnson).

8 Sage “A philosopher; a man of gravity and wisdom” (Johnson).

10 Philomel Also known as Philomela. Sister of Procne. She was raped by Procne’s husband Tereus. In his attempt to silence her Tereus cut out her tongue. She weaved the crime into a tapestry and sent it to her sister Procne who, as an act of revenge, killed her own son Itys and fed his remains to Tereus. Furious, Tereus chased the two women, but were turned into birds with Philomel becoming a nightingale (OCD).

31 mouldering “To decay; to rust; to crumble” (OED); urn “Earthenware or metal vessel used to preserve the ashes of the dead” (OED).

33 Science “Knowledge” (Johnson)

37 Father of light Referring to God “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (ESV Bible, James 1.17)

38 fain “Gladly, willingly, with pleasure” (OED).

42 conjecture “Guess; imperfect knowledge; preponderation of opinion without proof” (Johnson); forlorn “Deserted; destitute; forsaken; wretched; helpless; solitary” (Johnson).

44 effulgence “Lustre; brightness; clarity; splendor” (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions, 4th edition (London, 1780), pp. 77-78. [Google Books]

Edited by Noruel Manalili