1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Merry

Anonymous, "To Della Crusca" Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (17 December 1789).



Say, DELLA CRUSCA, must the Nymph be fair
Who hopes thy heart to hold in love's soft snare;
Can only auburn tresses hope to move,
And thrill thy soul with tenderness and love?
If so, a long farewell to balmy rest,
Peace from this moment flies my aching breast.

For I, alas! can boast no vermeil cheek,
No lily whiteness shines upon my neck;
No mild blue eye enchanting langour streams,
Melting the soul with its voluptuous beams.
Black as my hopes, my wretched eyes appear,
And only glitter with the impassion'd tear;
And dark brown hair my face profusely shades,
While the same hue, alas! my skin invades.

Pensive, my features, emblems of my soul,
That loves the tempest's howl, the thunder's roll;
Delights all day beside the mazy stream,
Reclin'd on MELANCHOLY'S breast, to dream.
To weep at slighted love's sad tales of woe,
And bind, with gloomy cypress wreaths, my brow.
Alone, to brave the horrors of the night,
To mark the vivid lightning's rapid flight,
To wander near some time-demolish'd tow'r,
Where the lone owl has built her ivy'd bow'r;
To view the pale moon gild the dreary walls,
And list the wind hoarse-sounding through the halls.

Thy verse, alas! has made such scenes more dear,
There I can groan unheard of mortal ear;
To the wild rocks can tell my bosom's flame,
And teach the echos, DELLA CRUSCA'S name.

Frigid MATILDA read thy charming lays,
And gave thy merit what was due — just praise.
Yet her cold bosom never felt the fire,
Thy magic numbers in my soul inspire.
Yes, I could love thee fondly, madly love,
With thee o'er mountains, and o'er heaths could rove.
With thee all dangers, ev'ry peril brave,
Of clift, of desert, or of foaming wave.
Shut from the light on LAPLAND'S freezing shore,
Still, DELLA CRUSCA, still I would adore.
Thy eyes to me would give a brighter day,
Than this which glitters with the Solar ray.

Or did thy swelling soul with glory glow,
My hands should twine the laurel for thy brow.
With thine my steps should tread ensanguin'd ground,
Nor would I fear the trumpets threat'ning sound.
Near thee I should the hostile spear defy,
With thee I'd conquer — or with thee would die.

Sound, sound again thy fascinating lyre,
Thy verse allays my heart-consuming fire;
Recal the Muse, and let thy dulcet strains,
Ease my sad bosom's agonizing pains.
And if thou canst not love — O! thought of woe—
Let gen'rous pity friendship's balm bestow;
Endear'd to thy lov'd heart by any chain,
Ill-fated ZOADA never shall complain.