1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Robinson

Anonymous, "To Laura Maria" The Oracle. Bell's New World (29 December 1789).



O, if thy pensive Muse can tell
The story of her woes so well!
If thus the anguish of thy lyre
Can more than Mirth's gay notes inspire!
If more of gentle Pleasure lies
In the soft magic of thy sighs;
—If, as thy plaintive tale we hear
More Wisdom flows with ev'ry tear,
Than ever Joy's extatic power
To Folly brought in Rapture's hour;
If thou thy tuneful griefs impart
A charm that melts and mends the heart:
And if, as sound the trembling strings,
Thy PHILOMEL more softly sings
In LAURA'S Verse than in the grove,
Ev'n on the night she lost her love;—
Ah, who can wish that Bird or Thee
From such sweet sorrow wholly free?
Or who that heard you once complain,
But listens for the sounds again?

Yet who that sees that gentle breast
In life's fair prime depriv'd of rest,
That hears Thee tell in truth-taught lays,
"How full of grief has been thy days!"
But would that magic verse forgo,
Could silence ease thy weight of woe!

Yet to the Muse since powers belong,
—For such the force of sacred Song!—
To claim Misfortune's troubled mien,
And give the "PATIENT SMILE serene,
Till by its blest and charming ray
The clouds of Sorrow fade away,"
O may the NIGHTINGALE and THEE
Still share our tender SYMPATHY,
Which, join'd to thy responsive strain,
May steal from BOTH "the thorn of pain!"