—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
15 Lethean “Pertaining 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