1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Amelia Opie

Anonymous, "Lines occasioned by reading Mrs. Opie's affecting Tale of The Father and Daughter" Gentleman's Magazine 76 (August 1806) 752.



Not for the joys which wealth can bring,
Or Fancy picture to the eye,
Would I exchange the crystal spring
Which flows to Sensibility.

More hallow'd than the shrine, where oft
The pilgrim bends the votive knee,
The eye which beams benignly soft
With tributary tears to thee.

For well the soft tear can impart,
With eloquence too all its own,
How sweetly throbs the owner's heart,
To every finer feeling prone.

For he who never kindly strove
To chase away the tear of woe,
Nor e'er from friendship or from love
Experienc'd the sweets that flow,

May haply glide through life, unknown
To ills which like the tempest lower;
But never will his bosom own
Thy sacred glow — thy soothing power.

In vain would Opie's tender tale
Of woe, so fraught with luxury,
Upon his stubborn soul prevail
To shed a tear — to heave a sigh.

And yet, what bosom would not melt,
Or trembling pearl what eye not shed,
At all the wretched Father felt
When Agnes was for ever fled.

Hark! he exclaims, in accents wild,
In infamy oh! let her live!
And yet she is my child! my child,
Return, and I will yet forgive!

Thou didst return, ill-fated fair,
Regardless of the pelting storm,
To view with bitterest despair
A maniac father's shatter'd form;

To tremble at the look of fire
Which darts beneath his clouded brow,
Which says — Didst thou too leave a sire
To heave the sigh of endless woe?

As round the cheerful fire we sit,
To Fanny I the tale impart,
Who mean-time weaves the silken net,
Or busy plies the needle's art.

But ever does the rising sigh
The progress of the tale impede,
And ever does my Fanny's eye,
O'erpower'd with strong emotions plead.

True as the needle to the North,
Maternal feelings swell her breast,
Whilst in the pride of conscious worth,
She rocks the fancied babe to rest.

But still resound its plaintive cries,
Chill'd by the blast and wet with rain;
In vain she lulls it with her sighs,
For still is heard Fitz-Henry's chain.

Sweet babe, that chain which makes thee start,
Which only makes thy tears to flow,
Tells to thy mother's throbbing heart,
A tale of unimagin'd woe.

Oh! may'st thou, Fanny, never feel
Such woes, if haply such there be!
And if along thy cheek should steal
The tear of sensibility;

Oh! may'st thou ever in my arms
Learn to forget each rising care;
And ever from the world's alarms,
Oh! may'st thou seek protection there!

Then shall the tale contrasted prove
To thee, my partner and my pride;
And then, too, shall the sweets of love
Endear to us our own fire-side.