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Or harsh, which, once elanc'd, must ever Aly When she, with modest scorn, the wreath return’d, Irrevocable; the too prompt reply,
Reclin'd her beauteous neck, and inward mourn'd! Seed of severe distrust and fierce debate ;
Forc'd by my pride, I my concern suppress'd, What we should shun, and what we ought to hate. Pretended drowsiness, and wish of rest :
Add too the blood impoverish'd, and the course And sullen I forsook th' imperfect feast,
Unhappy man! whom sorrow thus and rage Our eastern grandeur gives th' imprison'd fair, To different ills alternately engage;
To lead her forth to a distinguish'd bower, Who drinks, alas ! but to forget ; nor sees
And bid her dress the bed, and wait the hour That melancholy sloth, severe disease,
Restless I follow'd this obdurate maid Memory confus'd, and interrupted thought, (Swift are the steps that Love and Anger tread); Death's harbingers, lie latent in the draught ; Approach'd her person, courted her embrace, And, in the flowers that wreath the sparkling bowl, Renew'd my flame, repeated my disgrace; Fell adders hiss, and poisonous serpents roll. By turns put on the suppliant and the lord ; Remains there aught untry'd that
may remove Threaten'd this moment, and the next implor'd; Sickness of mind, and heal the bosom? Love. Offer'd again the unaccepted wreath, Love yet remains : indulge his genial fire,
And choice of happy love, or instant death. Cherish fair hope, solicit young desire,
Averse to all her amorous king desir'd, And boldly bid thy anxious soul explore
Far as she might she decently retir'd; This last great remedy's mysterious power. And, darting scorn and sorrow from her eyes,
Why therefore hesitates my doubtful breast ? “ What means," said she, “king Solomon the wise? Why ceases it one moment to be blest ?
“ This wretched body trembles at your power: Fly swift, my friends ; my servants, fly; employ Thus far could Fortune, but she can no more. Your instant pains to bring your master joy. Free to herself my potent mind remains, Let all my wives and concubines be dress'd; Nor fears the victor's rage, nor feels his chains. Let them to-night attend the royal feast ;
“ 'Tis said, that thou canst plausibly dispute, All Israel's beauty, all the foreign fair ;
Supreme of seers ! of angel, man, and brute ; The gifts of princes, or the spoils of war :
Canst plead, with subtle wit and fair discourse, Before their monarch they shall singly pass, Of passion's folly, and of reason's force ; And the most worthy shall obtain the grace.' That, to the tribes attentive, thou canst show
I said : the feast was serv'd, the bowl was crown'd; Whence their misfortunes or their blessings flow; To the king's pleasure went the mirthful round. That thou in science as in power art great, The women came : as custom wills, they past : And truth and honour on thy edicts wait. On one (O that distinguish'd one!) I cast Where is that knowledge now, that regal thought, The favourite glance! O! yet my mind retains With just advice and timely counsel fraught? That fond beginning of my infant pains.
Where now, O Judge of Israel! does it rove? Mature the virgin was, of Egypt's race ; (face; What in one moment dost thou offer? LoveGrace shap'd her limbs, and beauty deck'd her Love! why 'tis joy or sorrow, peace or strife; Easy her motion seem'd, serene her air ;
'Tis all the colour of remaining life : Full, though unzon'd, her bosom rose; her hair, And human misery must begin or end, Unty'd, and ignorant of artful aid,
As he becomes a tyrant or a friend. Adown her shoulders loosely lay display'd, Would David's son, religious, just, and grave, And in the jetty curls ten thousand Cupids play'd. To the first bride-bed of the world receive Fix'd on her charms, and pleas'd that I could love, A foreigner, a heathen, and a slave ? “ Aid me, my friends, contribute to improve Or, grant thy passion has these names destroy'd, Your monarch's bliss,” I said; “ fresh roses bring That Love, like Death, makes all distinction void; To strew my bed, till the impoverish'd Spring Yet in his empire o'er thy abject breast Confess her want ; around my amorous head His flames and torments only are exprest; Be dropping myrrh and liquid amber shed, His rage can in my smiles alone relent, Till Arab has no more. From the soft lyre, And all his joys solicit my consent. Sweet flute, and ten-string'd instrument, require “ Soft love, spontaneous tree, its parted root Sounds of delight: and thou, fair nymph! draw Must from two hearts with equal vigour shoot; nigh,
Whilst each, delighted and delighting gives Thou, in whose graceful form and potent eye, The pleasing ecstacy which each receives : Thy master's joy, long sought, at length is found; Cherish'd with hope, and fed with joy it grows; And, as thy brow, let my desires be crown'd; Its cheerful buds their opening bloom disclose, O favourite virgin! that hast warm'd the breast, And round the happy soil diffusive odour tlows Whose sovereign dictates subjugate the East !" If angry Fate that mutual care denies,
I said: and sudden from the golden throne, The fading plant bewails its due supplies ; With a submissive step, I hasted down.
Wild with despair, or sick with grief, it dies. The glowing garland from my hair I took,
“ By force beasts act, and are by force restraind: Love in my heart, obedience in my look ;
The human mind by gentle means is gain’d. Prepar'd to place it on her comely head :
Thy useless strength, mistaken king, employ : “ O favourite virgin !" yet again I said,
Sated with rage, and ignorant of joy, “ Receive the honours destin'd to thy brow Thou shalt not gain what I deny to yield, And 0, above thy fellows, happy thou !
Nor reap the harvest, though thou spoil'st the field. Their duty must thy sovereign word obey : Know, Solomon, thy poor extent of sway; Rise up, my love, my fair-one, come away.'
Contract thy brow, and Israel shall obey : What pangs, alas ! what ecstacy of smart,
But wilful Love thou must with smiles appease, Tore up my senses, and transfix'd my heart, Approach his awful throne by just degrees,
And, if thou would'st be happy. Jenn to please.
“ Not that those arts can here successful prove, Entirely thus I find the fiend pourtray'd, For I am destin'd to another's love.
Since first, alas ! I saw the beauteous maid : Beyond the cruel bounds of thy command,
I felt him strike, and now I see him fly: To my dear equal in my native land,
Curs'd deinon! O! for ever broken lie My plighted vow I gave; I his receiv'd:
Those fatal shafts, by which I inward bleed! Each swore with truth, with pleasure each believ'd. 0! can my wishes yet o'ertake thy speed! The mutual contract was to Heaven convey'd ; Tir'd may'st thou pant, and hang thy flagging wing, In equal scales the busy angels weigh'd
Except thou turn'st thy course, resolv'd to bring Its solemn force, and clapp'd their wings, and spread The damsel back, and save the love-sick king !" The lasting roll, recording what we said.
My soul thus struggling in the fatal net,
Sent and recall'd, ordain'd and disapprov'd ;
Time gently aided to assuage my pain,
But 0, how short my interval of woe ! “ Now strike,” she said, and open'd bare her Our griefs how swift! our remedies how slow! breast;
Another nymph, (for so did Heaven ordain, “ Stand it in Judah's chronicles confest,
To change the manner, but renew the pain,) That David's son, by impious passion mov'd, Another nymph, amongst the many fair, Smote a she-slave, and murder'd what he lov'd!" That made my softer hours their solemn care,
Aslam'd, confus’d, I started from the bed, Before the rest affected still to stand, And to my soul, yet uncollected, said,
And watch'd my eye, preventing my command. “ Into thyself, fond Solomon, return;
Abra, she so was call’d, did soonest haste Reflect again, and thou again shalt mourn. To grace my presence; Abra went the last When I through number'd years bave Pleasure Abra was ready ere I call'd her name; sought,
And, though I calld another, Abra came.
To me her actions did unheeded die,
The Sun declin'd had shot his western ray,
(For so the precept of the law commands): for whom, disdaining me, she keeps her charms ? Love had ordain'd, that it was Abra's turn “ Fantastic tyrant of the amorous heart,
To mix the sweets, and minister the urn. How hard thy yoke ! how cruel is thy dart !
With awful homage and submissive dread, Those 'scape thy anger, who refuse thy sway, The maid approach'd, on my declining head And those are punish'd most who most obey. To pour the oils ; she trembled as she pour’d: See Judah's king revere thy greater power : With an unguarded look she now devour'd What canst thou covet, or how triumph more ? My nearer face ! and now recall’d her eye, Why then, O Love, with an obdurate ear,
And heav'd, and strove to hide, a sudden sigh. Does this proud nymph reject a monarch's prayer ? “ And whence,” said I, “ canst thou have dread Why to some simple shepherd does she run
or pain ? From the fond arms of David's favourite son ? What can thy imagery of sorrow mean? Why flies she from the glories of a court,
Secluded from the world and all its care, Where wealth and pleasure may thy reign support, Hast thou to grieve or joy, to hope or fear? To some poor cottage on the mountain's brow, For sure," I added, “ sure thy little heart Now bleak with winds, and cover'd now with snow, Ne'er felt Love's anger, nor receiv’d his dart." Where pinching want must curb her warm desires, Abash’d, she blush'd, and with disorder spoke: And household cares suppress thy genial fires ? Her rising shame adorn'd the words it broke. “ Too aptly the afflicted Heathens prove
“ If the great master will descend to hear Thy force, while they erect the shrines of Love. The humble series of his handmaid's care; His mystic form the artizans of Greece
while she tells it, let him not put on In wounded stone, or molten gold, express; The look, that awes the nations from the throne ! And Cyprus to his godhead pays her vow,
O! let not death severe in glory lie Fast in his hand the idol holds his bow ;
In the king's frown, and terrour of his eye! A quiver by his side sustains his store
“ Mine to obey, thy part is to ordain; of pointed darts ; sad emblems of his power : And though to mention be to suffer pain, A pair of wings he has, which he extends
If the king smile whilst I my woe recite, Now to be gone ; which now again he bends, If, weeping, I find favour in his sight, Prone to return, as best may serve his wanton ends. Flow fast, my tears, full rising his delight.
“O! witness Earth beneath, and Heaven above ! | O! yet my tortur'd senses deep retain For can I hide it? I am sick of love ;
The wretched memory of my former pain, If madness may the name of passion bear,
The dire affront, and my Egyptian chain. Or love be call’d what is indeed despair. [controls “ As time,” I said, “ may happily efface
“ Thou Sovereign Power! whose secret will That cruel image of the king's disgrace, The inward bent and motion of our souls !
Imperial Reason shall resume her seat, Why hast thou plac'd such infinite degrees
And Solomon, once fall’n, again be great. Between the cause and cure of my disease ? Betray'd by passion, as subdued in war, The mighty object of that raging fire,
We wisely should exert a double care,
Nor ever ought a second time to err."
I saw her; 'twas humanity ; it gave
Some respite to the sorrows of my slave. Scornful of winter's frost and summer's sun, Her fond excess proclaim'd her passion true, Still asking where he made his flock to rest at noon. And generous pity to that truth was due. For him at night, the dear expected guest, Well I entreated her, who well deserv'd; I had with hasty joy prepar'd the feast;
I call'd her often, for she always serv'd And from the cottage, o'er the distant plain, Use made her person easy to my sight, Sent forth my longing eye to meet the swain, And ease insensibly produc'd delight. Wavering, impatient, toss'd by hope and fear, Whene'er I revell’d in the women's bowers, Till he and joy together should appear,
(For first I sought her but at looser hours) And the lov'd dog declare his master near. The apples she had gather'd smelt most sweet, On my declining neck and open breast
The cakes she kneaded was the savoury meat : I should have lull’d the lovely youth to rest,
But fruits their odour lost, and meats their taste, And from beneath his head, at dawning day, If gentle Abra had not deck'd the feast. With softest care have stol'n my arm away,
Dishonour'd did the sparkling goblet stand, To rise and from the fold release the sheep, Unless receiv'd from gentle Abra's hand; Fond of his flock, indulgent to his sleep.
And, when the virgins form'd the evening choir, “ Or if kind Heaven, propitious to my flame, Raising their voices to the master lyre, (For sure from Heaven the faithful ardour came,) Too fiat I thought this voice, and that too shrill; Had blest my life, and deck'd my natal hour One show'd too much, and one too little skill; With height of title, and extent of power ;
Nor could my soul approve the music's tone, Without a crime my passion had aspir'd,
Till all was hush'd, and Abra sung alone. Found the lov'd prince, and told what I desir’d. Fairer she seem'd distinguish'd from the rest,
“ Then I had come, preventing Sheba's queen, And better mien disclos'd, as better drest. To see the comeliest of the sons of men,
A bright tiara, round her forehead ty'd,
The blushing ruby on her snowy breast
Render'd its panting whiteness more confess'd; Sweeter than breezes of her native south,
Bracelets of pearl gave roundness to her arm, Likening his grace, his person, and his mien, And every gem augmented every charm. To all that great or beauteous I had seen.
Her senses pleas'd, her beauty still improv'd, Serene and bright his eyes, as solar beams
And she more lovely grew, as more belov'd. Reflecting temper'd light from crystal streams; And now I could behold, avow, and blame Ruddy as gold his cheek ; his bosom fair
The several follies of my former flame; As silver ; the curl'd ringlets of his hair
Willing my heart for recompense to prove Black as the raven's wing; his lip more red The certain joys that lie in prosperous love. Than eastern coral, or the scarlet thread;
“ For what,” said I, “ from Abra can I fear, Even his teeth, and white like a young flock Too humble to insult, too soft to be severe ? Coeval, newly shorn, from the clear brook
The damsel's sole ambition is to please : Recent, and branching on the sunny rock.
With freedom I may like, and quit with ease; Ivory, with sapphires interspers’d, explains
She soothes, but never can enthral my mind: How white his hands, how blue the manly veins. Why may not Peace and Love for once be join'd?" Columns of polish'd marble, firmly set
Great Heaven ! how frail thy creature man is On golden bases, are his legs and feet;
made! His stature all majestic, all divine,
How by himself insensibly betray'd !
On Pleasure's flowing brink we idly stray,
And give our conduct to the waves and wind : With unborn monarchs charg'd, and Solomons to Then in the flowery mead, or verdant shade, come.”
To wanton dalliance negligently laid, Here o'er her speech her flowing eyes prevail. We weave the ci aplet, and we crown the bowl, O foolish maid! and O unhappy tale!
And smiling ser the nearer waters roll, My suffering heart for ever shall defy
Till the strong gusts of raging passion rise, New wounds and danger from a future eye. Till the dire tempest mingles earth and skies;
And, swift into the boundless ocean borne,
If haply Abra's will be now inclin'd Our foolish confidence too late we mourn; To range the woods, or chase the flying hind, Round our devoted heads the billows beat, (treat. Soon as the Sun awakes, the sprightly court And from our troubled view the lessen'd lands re- Leave their repose, and hasten to the sport.
O mighty Love! from thy unbounded power In lessen'd royalty, and humble state, How shall the human bosom rest secure ?
Thy king, Jerusalem, descends to wait How shall our thought avoid the various snare ? Till Abra comes : she comes ; a milk-white steed Or Wisdom to our caution'd soul declare
Mixture of Persia's and Arabia's breed, The different shapes thou pleasest to employ, Sustains the nymph : her garments flying loose, When bent to hurt, and certain to destroy? (As the Sydonian maids or Thracian use,)
The haughty nymph, in open beauty drest, And half her knee and half her breast appear, To-day encounters our unguarded breast :
By art, like negligence, disclos'd and bare. She looks with majesty, and moves with state ; Her left-hand guides the hunting courser's fight, Unbent her soul, and in misfortune great,
A silver bow she carries in her right,
Here whilst we take stern manhood for our guide, Rustles the ebon arrow's feather'd pride.
Diana, huntress, mistress of the groves,
The favourite Abra speaks, and looks, and moves. To-day belov'd, to-morrow is obey'd.
Her, as the present goddess, I obey :
rays elude our sight : The mingled chorus sings Diana's fame : Struck with her eye, whilst we applaud her mind, Clarions and horns in louder peals proclaim And when we speak her great, we wish her kind. Her mystic praise ; the vocal triumphs bound
To-morrow, cruel power ! thou arm'st the fair Against the hills; the hills reflect the sound. With flowing sorrow, and dishevell’d hair ;
If, tir'd this evening with the hunted woods, Sad her complaint, and humble is her tale, To the large fish-pools, or the glassy floods, Her sighs explaining where her accents fail. Her mind to-morrow points; a thousand hands, Here generous softness warms the honest breast ; To-night employ'd, obey the king's commands. We raise the sad, and succour the distress'd. Upon the watery beach an artful pile And, whilst our wish prepares the kind relief, Of planks is join'd, and forms a moving isle : Whilst pity mitigates her rising grief,
A golden chariot in the midst is set, We sicken soon from her contagious care,
And silver cygnets seem to feel its weight. Grieve for her sorrows, groan for her despair ; Abra, bright queen, ascends her gaudy throne, And against Love too late those bosoms arm, In semblance of the Grecian Venus known: Which tears can soften, and which sighs can warm. Tritons and sea-green Naiads round her move, Against this nearest, cruellest of foes,
And sing in moving strains the force of love ; What shall Wit meditate, or Force oppose ? Whilst, as th' approaching pageant does appear, Whence, feeble Nature, shall we summon aid, And echoing crowds speak mighty Venus near, If by our pity and our pride betray'd ?
I, her adorer, too devoutly stand External remedy shall we hope to find,
Fast on the utmost margin of the land, When the close fiend has gain'd our treacherous with arms and hopes extended, to receive Insulting there does Reason's power deride, The fancy'd goddess rising from the wave, And, blind himself, conducts the dazzled guide ? O subject Reason! O imperious Love! My conqueror now, my lovely Abra, held
Whither yet further would my folly rove?
In the wall’d palace, or the rural seat?
Solemn a month is destin'd for the feast :
Arabia's wilds, and Egypt's, are explor'd :
Hardly the phenix 'scapes -
To sing my happiness, and Abra's praise ;
While, from the banquet leading forth the bride, Forsakes the pomp and pageantry of war,
Whom prudent Love from public eyes should hide, The form of peaceful Abigail assumes,
I show her to the world, confess'd and known And from the village with the present comes. Queen of my heart, and partner of my throne. The youthful band depose their glittering arms, And now her friends and flatterers fill the court; Receive her bounties, and recite her charms; From Dan and from Beersheba they resort : Whilst I assume my father's step and mien, They barter places, and dispose of grants,
They teach her to recede, or to debate,
What from his life and letters were we taught, With toys of love to mix affairs of state;
But that his knowledge aggravates his fault?" By practis'd rules her empire to secure,
In lighter mood the humorous and the gay And in my pleasure make my ruin sure.
(As crown'd with roses at their feasts they lay) They gave, and she transferr'd the curs'd advice, Sent the full goblet, charg'd with Abra's name, That monarchs should their inward soul disguise, And charms superior to their master's fame. Dissemble and command, be false and wise; Laughing, some praise the king, who let them se By ignominious arts, for servile ends,
How aptly luxe and empire might agree : Should compliment their foes, and shun their Some gloss’d, how love and wisdom were at strife, friends.
And brought my proverbs to confront my life. And now I leave the true and just supports “ However, friend, here's to the king," ode cries: Of legal princes, and of honest courts,
“ To him who was the king,” the friend replies Barzillai's and the fierce Benaiah's heirs,
“ The king, for Judah's and for Wisdom's curse, Whose sires, great partners in my father's cares, To Abra yields : could I or thou do worse? Saluted their young king, at Hebron crown'd, Our looser lives let Chance or Folly steer, Great by their toil, and glorious by their wound. If thus the prudent and determin'd err. And now (unhappy counsel !) I prefer
Let Dinah bind with flowers her flowing hair, Those whom my follies only made me fear, And touch the lute, and sound the wanton air : Old Corah's blood, and taunting Shimei's race; Let us the bliss without the sting receive, Miscreants who ow'd their lives to David's grace, Free, as we will, or to enjoy, or leave. Though they had spurn’d his rule, and curs'd him Pleasures on levity's smooth surface flow : to his face.
Thought brings the weight that sinks the soul to Still Abra's power, my scandal still increas'd; Now be this maxim to the king convey'd, Justice submitted to what Abra pleas'd:
And added to the thousand he has made." Her will alone could settle or revoke,
“ Sadly, O Reason! is thy power express'd, And law was fix'd by what she latest spoke. Thou gloomy tyrant of the frighted breast ! Israel neglected, Abra was my care :
And harsh the rules which we from thee receive, I only acted, thought, and liv'd, for her.
If for our wisdom we our pleasure give;
If Judah's king, at thy tribunal try'd,
Forsakes his joy, to vindicate his pride, Which gave my righteous youth so just applause, And, changing sorrows, I am only found In vain on the dissembled mother's tongue
Loos'd from the chains of Love, in thine more Had cunning art and sly persuasion hung,
strictly bound ! And real care in vain, and native love,
“ But do I call thee tyrant, or complain In the true parent's panting breast had strove; How hard thy laws, how absolute thy reign? While both, deceiv'd, had seen the destin'd child While thou, alas ! art but an empty name, Or slain or sav'd, as Abra frown'd or smil'd. To no two men, who e'er discours'd, the same;
Unknowing to command, proud to obey, The idle product of a troubled thought, A lifeless king, a royal shade, I lay.
In borrow'd shapes and airy colours wrought; Unheard, the injur'd orphans now complain ; A fancy'd line, and a reflected shade; The widow's cries address the throne in vain. A chain which man to fetter man has made; Causes unjudg'd disgrace the loaded file,
By artifice impos'd, by fear obey'd !
" Yet, wretched name, or arbitrary thing,
Reluctant I perceive thee in my soul,
Yes; thy insulting dictates shall be heard;
Virtue for once shall be her own reward: Porches and schools, design'd for public good, Yes; rebel Israel! this unhappy maid Uncover'd, and with scaffolds cumber'd stood, Shall be dismiss'd: the crowd shall be obey'd: Or nodded, threatening ruin.
The king his passion and his rule shall leave, Half pillars wanted their expected height,
No longer Abra's, but the people's slave.
My coward soul shall bear its wayward fate;
And sigh in royalty, and grieve in state."
I said : resolv’d to plunge into my grief
From my despair alone -
The harsh epistle labour'd much to prove
I always should, it said, esteem her well, On large phylacteries expressive writ,
But never see her more: it bid her feel Were to the forehead of the rabbins ty'd,
No future pain for me; but instant wed Our youth's instruction, and our age's pride? A lover more proportion'd to her bed, Could not the wise his wild desires restrain ? And quiet dedicate her remnant life Then was our hearing, and his preaching, vain! To the just duties of an humble wife