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My plighted vow I gave : I his receiv'd:
Each swore with truth, with pleasure each believ'd.
The mutual contract was to Heaven convey’d:
In equal scales the busy angels weigh'd
Its folemn force, and clap'd their wings, and spread
The lasting roll, recording what we said.
Now in my heart behold thy poniard stain'd;
Take the fad life which I have long disdain'd;
End, in a dying virgin's wretched fate,
Thy ill-ftar'd passion, and my stedfast hate.
For long as blood informs these circling veins,
Or fleeting breath its latest power retains;
Hear me to Egypt's vengeful Gods declare.
Hate is my part: be thine, O King, despair.
Now strike, she said, and open'd bare her breast;
Stand it in Judah's chronicles confest,
That David's son, by impious passion mov’d,
Smote a she-slave, and murder'd what he lov'd !
Asham’d, confus’d, I started from the bed, And to my soul yet uncollected, said: Into thyself, fond Solomon, return; Reflect again, and thou again shalt mourn. When I through number'd years have Pleasure fought, And in vain hope the wanton phantom caught; To mock my sense, and mortify my pride, 'Tis in another's power, and is denyd. Am I a king, great Heaven! does life or death Hang on the wrath, or mercy of my breath; While kneeling I my servant's smiles implore ; And one mad damsel dares dispute my power ?
To ravish her! that thought was soon depress’d,
Which must debase the monarch to the beast.
To send her back! O whither, and to whom?
To lands where Solomon must never come?
To that insulting rival's happy arms,
For whom, disdaining me, she keeps her charms ?
Fantastic tyrant of the amorous heart;
How hard thy yoke! how cruel is thy dart !
Those 'scape thy anger, who refuse thy sway ;
And those are punish'd most, who most obey.
See Judah's king revere thy greater power :
What canst thou covet, or how triumph more?
Why then, O Love, with an obdurate ear
Does this proud nymph reject a inonarch's prayer ?
Why to some simple shepherd does she run,
From the fond arms of David's favourite fon?
Why flies the from the glories of a court,
Where wealth and pleasure may thy reign support,
To some poor cottage on the mountain's brow,
Now bleak with winds, and cover'd now with snow;
Where pinching want must curb her warm desires,
And houshold cares fupprefs thy genial fires?
Too aptly the aflicted heathens prove
Thy force, while they erect the shrines of Love,
His mystic form the artizans of Greece
In wounded stone, or molten gold, express:
And Cyprus to his godhead pays her vow:
Fast in his hand the idol holds his bow:
A quiver by his fide fustains his store
Of pointed darts ; fad emblems of his power:
A pair of wings he has, which he extends
Now to be gone; which now again he bends
Prone to return, as best may serve his wanton ends.
Entirely thus I find the fiend pourtray'd,
Since first, alas! I saw the beauteous maid:
I felt him strike ; and now I see him fly:
Curs'd Dæmon! O! for ever broken lie
Those fatal shafts, by which I inward bleed!
O! can my wishes yet o’ertake thy speed !
Tir'd may'st thou pant, and hang thy flagging
Except thou turn'ft thy course, resolv'd to bring
The damsel back, and save the love-fick king!
My soul thus struggling in the fatal net,
Unable to enjoy, or to forget;
I reason'd much, alas! but more I lov'd;
Sent and recall'd, ordain'd, and disapproy'd;
'Till, hopeless, plung'd in an abyss of grief,
I from necessity receiv'd relief:
Time gently aided to affwage my pain;
And Wisdom took once more the lacken'd rein.
But O how short my interval of woe!
Our griefs how swift! our remedies how flow!
Another nymph (for fo did Heaven ordain,
To change the manner, but renew the pain)
Another nymph, amongst the many fair,
That made my softer hours their solemn care,
Before the rest affected well to stand;
And watch'd my eye, preventing my command.
Abra, she so was call’d, did soonest haite
grace my presence; Abra went the last:
Abra was ready ere I call’d her name;
And, though I call’d another, Abra came.
Her equals first obferv'd her growing zeal;
And laughing gloss'd, that Abra serv'd so well.
To me her actions did unheeded die,
Or were remark'd but with a common eye;
'Till, more appriz'd of what the rumour said,
More I observ'd peculiar in the maid.
The sun declin'd had shot his western ray;
When, tir'd with business of the solemn day,
I purpos’d to unbend the evening hours,
And banquet private in the women's bowers.
I call'd before I sat to wash
hands: (For so the precept of the law commands): Love had ordain'd, that it was Abra's turn To mix the sweets, and minifter the urn.
With awful homage, and submissive dread, The maid approach'd, on my declining head To pour the oils ; she trembled as she pour’d; With an unguarded look she now devour'd My nearer face; and now recall'd her eye, And heav'd, and strove to hide a sudden figh. And whence, said I, canst thou have dread, or pain? What can thy imagery of sorrow mean? Secluded from the world, and all its care, Haft thou to grieve or joy, to hope or fear? For sure, I added, sure thy little heart Ne'er felt Love's anger, nor receiv'd his dart.
Abash'd she blush'd, and with disorder spoke:
Her rising shame adorn’d the words it broke.
If the great master will descend to hear
The humble series of his hand-maid's care;
O! while she tells it, let him not put on
The look, that awes the nations from the throne!
O! let not death severe in glory lie
In the king's frown, and terror of his eye!
Mine to obey ; thy part is to ordain;
And, though to mention, be to suffer pain,
If the king smile, whilft I my woes recite;
If weeping I find favour in his fight;
Flow fast my tears, full rising his delight.
O! witness Earth beneath, and Heaven above!
For can I hide it? I am sick of love:
If madness may the name of passion bear;
Or love be call'd, what is indeed despair.
Thou Sovereign Power! whose fecret will controlls
The inward bent and motion of our fouls !
Why hast thou plac'd such infinite degrees ·
Between the cause and cure of my disease ?
The mighty object of that raging fire,
In which unpity'd Abra must expire,
Had he been born some fimple shepherd's heir,
The lowing herd, or fleecy sheep his care ;
At morn with him I o'er the hills had run,
Scornful of winter's frost, and fummer's fun,
Still asking, where he made his ilock to rest at noon.
For him at night, the dear expected guest,
I had with hafty joy prepar'd the feast;