A LOVE LETTER.
1 WHAT shall I say to fix thy wav'ring mind,
2 To chase thy doubts, and force thee to be kind?
3 What weight of argument can turn the scale,
4 If intercession from a lover fail?
5 By what shall I conjure thee to obey
6 This tender summons, nor prolong thy stay?
7 If unabated in this constant breast
8 That passion burns which once thy vows profess'd;
9 If absence has not chill'd the languid flame,
10 Its ardour and its purity the same;
11 Indulge those transports, and no more controul
12 The dictates of thy fond consenting soul;
13 By no vain scruple be thy purpose sway'd,
14 And only Love implicitly obey'd:
15 Let inclination this debate decide,
16 Nor be thy prudence, but thy heart thy guide:
17 But real prudence never can oppose
18 What Love suggests, and Gratitude avows:
19 The warm dear raptures which thy bosom move,
20 'Tis virtue to indulge, 'tis wisdom to improve:
21 For think how few the joys allow'd by Fate,
22 How mix'd the cup, how short their longest date![Page 107]
23 How onward still the stream of pleasure flows!
24 That no reflux the rapid current knows!
25 Not ev'n thy charms can bribe the ruthless hand
26 Of rigid Time, to stay his ebbing sand;
27 Fair as thou art, that beauty must decay;
28 The night of age succeeds the brightest day:
29 That check where Nature's sweetest garden blows,
30 Her whitest lily, and her warmest rose;
31 Those eyes, those meaning ministers of Love,
32 Who, what thy lips can only utter, prove;
33 These must resign their lustre, those their bloom,
34 And find with meaner charms one common doom:
35 Pass but a few short years, this change must be;
36 Nor one less dreadful shalt thou mourn in me:
37 For tho' no chance can alienate my flame,
38 While thine to feed the lamp, shall burn the same,
39 Yet shall the stream of years abate that fire,
40 And cold esteem succeed to warm desire:
41 Then on thy breast unraptur'd shall I dwell,
42 Nor feel a joy beyond what I can tell.
43 Or say, should sickness antedate that woe,
44 And intercept what Time would else allow;
45 If pain should pall my taste to all thy charms,
46 Or Death himself should tear me from thy arms;
47 How would'st thou then regret with fruitless truth,
48 The precious squander'd hours of health and youth?
49 Come then, my love, nor trust the future day,
50 Live whilst we can, be happy whilst we may:[Page 108]
51 For what is life unless its joys we prove?
52 And what is happiness but mutual love?
53 Our time is wealth no frugal hand can store,
54 All our possession is the present hour,
55 And he who spares to use it, ever poor.
56 The golden now is all that we can boast;
57 And that (like snow) at once is grasp'd and lost.
58 Haste, wing thy passage then, no more delay,
59 But to these eyes their sole delight convey.
60 Not thus I languish'd for thy virgin charms,
61 When first surrender'd to these eager arms,
62 When first admitted to that heav'n, thy breast,
63 To mine I strain'd that charming foe to rest;
64 How leaps my conscious heart, whilst I retrace
65 The dear idea of that strict embrace?
66 When on thy bosom quite entranc'd I lay,
67 And love unsated the short night away;
68 Whilst half reluctant you, and half resign'd,
69 Amidst fears, wishes, pain and pleasure join'd,
70 Now holding off, now growing to my breast,
71 By turns reprov'd me, and by turns caress'd.
72 Oh! how remembrance throbs in every vein!
73 I pant, I sicken for that scene again;
74 My senses ach, I can no word command,
75 And the pen totters in my trembling hand.
76 Farewel, thou only joy on earth I know,
77 And all that man can taste of heav'n below.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): A LOVE LETTER.
Author: John Hervey, Baron of Ickworth
Themes: carpe diem; love
Genres: heroic couplet
References: DMI 25721
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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.
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