1740 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jane Brereton

Carolina, "To the Memory of a Mother" Gentleman's Magazine 10 (October 1740) 518.



Why sinks my heart beneath a weight of woe?
Why throbs my breast? my tears incessant flow?
Why flies the slumber from my aching eyes?
What prompts the sight when morning gilds the skies?
Day's chearful orb, why hateful to my sight?
Why seeks my soul the mournful gloom of night?
Ask death the cause — too well the tyrant knows,
From his relentless hand proceed my woes.

To thee, blest shade! I chearless tune the lay
All, for thy love, my bleeding heart can pay;
As now that love a sad remembrance brings
The Muse must weep — yet while she weeps, she sings!

How did her care, her tenderness engage
The artless fondness of my infant age?
And when advancing in the years of youth
Teach me the ways of wisdom and of truth?
The happy hours flew unperceiv'd along,
While native wit flow'd, tuneful, from her tongue:
Her gentle numbers charm'd the list'ning ear,
MELISSA'S name was to the Muses dear.
Nature, in her, with care unwonted join'd
The beauteous frame and still more beauteous mind;
Neither diminish'd by affected art,
Nor guile deform'd, nor pride debased her heart;
Above her sex's foibles was her aim,
Too just, too good, to flatter or defame;
To friendship ever true, in converse free,
And dear to all — but oh! most dear to me.
With every virtue was her bosom warm,
And pure religion brighten'd every charm.
But say, lamented shade, should I repine
That thou has chang'd the mortal for divine?
More than I've lost in thee, to thee is giv'n:
I've lost a parent — thou has gain'd a heav'n.—
With spotless Rowe you tread th' etherial plains,
And wake the golden lyre to heav'nly strains;
Harmonious join the blest angelick choirs,
God all the theme — while God the song inspires.

Long as I wander thro' the maze of life,
Amidst delusive joys, and care, and strife,
Fix'd in my breast thy mem'ry shall reside,
Thy virtue fire me, and thy precept guide.
Thus shall I fearless feel the hand of death,
Like thee, in peace, resign my trembling breath,
My soul exulting meet her pitying God,
And join thy raptures in the blest abode.