Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ELEGY TO THE MEMORY OF AN UNFORTUNATE LADY, by ALEXANDER POPE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ELEGY TO THE MEMORY OF AN UNFORTUNATE LADY, by         Recitation     Poem Explanation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: What beckoning ghost, along the moonlight shade
Last Line: The muse forgot, and thou belov'd no more!
Variant Title(s): Verses To The Memory Of An Unfortunate Lady;elegy To The Death Of An Unfortunate Lady
Subject(s): Death; Love; Dead, The

What beckoning ghost, along the moonlight shade
Invites my step, and points to yonder glade?
'''Tis she!''"but why that bleeding bosom gored,
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword?
Oh ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it, in heaven, a crime to love too well?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a lover'''s or a Roman'''s part?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky,
For those who greatly think, or bravely die?
Why bade ye else, ye powers! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low desire?
Ambition first sprung from your blessed abodes;
The glorious fault of angels and of gods:
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows,
Most souls, '''tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen prisoners in the body'''s cage:
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres;
Like eastern kings a lazy state they keep,
And close confined in their own palace sleep.
From these perhaps (ere nature bade her die)
Fate snatched her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And separate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to its congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou, mean deserter of thy brother'''s blood!
See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
These cheeks, now fading at the blast of death;
Cold is that breast which warmed the world before,
And those love-darting eyes must roll no more.
Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall:
On all the line a sudden vengeance waits,
And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates.
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say,
(While the long funerals blacken all the way)
'''Lo these were they, whose souls the Furies steeled,
And cursed with hearts unknowing how to yield.
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
So perish all, whose breast ne'''er learned to glow
For others good, or melt at others woe.'''
What can atone (oh ever-injured shade!)
Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid?
No friend'''s complaint, no kind domestic tear
Pleased thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier;
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned,
By strangers honoured, and by strangers mourned!
What though no friends in sable weeds appear,
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year,
And bear about the mockery of woe
To midnight dances, and the public show?
What though no weeping loves thy ashes grace,
Nor polished marble emulate thy face?
What though no sacred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallowed dirge be muttered o'''er thy tomb?
Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be dressed,
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast:
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first roses of the year shall blow;
While angels with their silver wings o'''ershade
The ground, now sacred by thy relics made.
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.
How loved, how honoured once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee;
'''Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!
Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung;
Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue.
Ev'''n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays,
Shall shortly want the generous tear he pays;
Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part,
And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart,
Life'''s idle business at one gasp be o'''er,
The Muse forgot, and thou beloved no more!

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