Saturday, March 13, 2010

To a Friend, Unsuccessful in Love

By Mark Akenside

1 Indeed, my Phædria, if to find
That wealth can female wishes gain,
Had e'er disturb'd your thoughtful mind,
Or caused one serious moment's pain,
I should have said that all the rules
You learn'd of moralists and schools
Were very useless, very vain.

2 Yet I perhaps mistake the case—
Say, though with this heroic air,
Like one that holds a nobler chase,
You try the tender loss to bear,
Does not your heart renounce your tongue?
Seems not my censure strangely wrong
To count it such a slight affair?

3 When Hesper gilds the shaded sky,
Oft as you seek the well-known grove,
Methinks I see you cast your eye
Back to the morning scenes of love:
Each pleasing word you heard her say,
Her gentle look, her graceful way,
Again your struggling fancy move.

4 Then tell me, is your soul entire?
Does Wisdom calmly hold her throne?
Then can you question each desire,
Bid this remain, and that be gone?
No tear half-starting from your eye?
No kindling blush, you know not why?
No stealing sigh, nor stifled groan?

5 Away with this unmanly mood!
See where the hoary churl appears,
Whose hand hath seized the favourite good
Which you reserved for happier years:
While, side by side, the blushing maid
Shrinks from his visage, half afraid,
Spite of the sickly joy she wears.

6 Ye guardian powers of love and fame,
This chaste, harmonious pair behold;
And thus reward the generous flame
Of all who barter vows for gold.
O bloom of youth, O tender charms
Well-buried in a dotard's arms!
O equal price of beauty sold!

7 Cease then to gaze with looks of love:
Bid her adieu, the venal fair:
Unworthy she your bliss to prove;
Then wherefore should she prove your care?
No: lay your myrtle garland down;
And let a while the willow's crown
With luckier omens bind your hair.

8 O just escaped the faithless main,
Though driven unwilling on the land;
To guide your favour'd steps again,
Behold your better Genius stand:
Where Truth revolves her page divine,
Where Virtue leads to Honour's shrine,
Behold, he lifts his awful hand.

9 Fix but on these your ruling aim,
And Time, the sire of manly care,
Will fancy's dazzling colours tame;
A soberer dress will beauty wear:
Then shall esteem, by knowledge led,
Enthrone within your heart and head
Some happier love, some truer fair.

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