Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A FRAGMENT OF AN EPIC POEM, OCCASIONED BY THE LOSS OF A GAME, by ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD



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A FRAGMENT OF AN EPIC POEM, OCCASIONED BY THE LOSS OF A GAME, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When thus the hostile maid refus'd to yield
Last Line: And burns with ardour to renew the fight.
Alternate Author Name(s): Aikin, Anna Letitia
Subject(s): Chess


When thus the hostile maid refus'd to yield,
The honours of the long disputed field;
When her firm phalanx, wedg'd in close array,
Press'd on the foe, and turn'd the doubtful day,
The knight despair'd by open force to gain
Victorious laurels on the chequer'd plain:
And long revolv'd within his wily breast,
What friendly pow'r would aid his conquest best.
Distress'd by doubt, and urg'd by deep despair,
At length to Morpheus he address'd his pray'r;
A gentle, harmless, inoffensive pow'r,
And ne'er invok'd in fighting fields before.
He turn'd, observant to the setting sun,
Thrice yawn'd, and his petition thus begun:
"O thou! whose equal, mild, and grateful sway,
The wretched welcome, and the great obey,
If e'er, with murmur'd spells of magic sound,
I've spread thy empire ev'n on holy ground,
'Till drowsy vapours crept from pew to pew,
'Till all the nodding audience bow'd to you,
And hung their heads like flow'rs beneath the dew;
In instant slumbers seal those hostile eyes,
And let my troops th' unwary foe surprize.
My grateful hands to thee shall consecrate
An ample folio, of stupendous weight:
Words of such opiate virtue shall compose
The soporific, mild, lethean dose;
No mortal eyelid shall resist the charm,
No Dutchman's phlegm against its influence arm.
Thy most rebellious subjects then shall know
Thy pow'r, and to thy leaden sceptre bow!"
He said; the drowsy power who lurked unseen
In a warm elbow chair behind a screen,
Half rouzed to life the powerful call attends
And o'er the female chief his wand extends;
Then from her eyes the martial ardour fled,
And ev'ry project vanish'd from her head.
She yawns, she nods, no more o'erlooks the field,
In leaden, deep, and death-like slumbers seal'd.
Now, scatter'd wide, her broken squadrons fly,
Nobles and pawns in wild disorder lie.
Ruin succeeds, confusion, shameful flight,
And her pale troops grow paler with affright;
While ardent hopes the conqu'ring bands o'erspread
With a new flush of more enliven'd red.
At length the Queen, the captiv'd Queen is lost,
And instant fate o'erwhelms the scatter'd host.
So when Ulysses, from the Trojan realm,
Ten weary nights had waken'd at the helm;
Just as his native shore salutes his eyes,
And Ithaca's blue hills in prospect rise;
The chief by Sleep's resistless charms oppress'd,
Exhausted, sunk to momentary rest;
Back o'er the bounding waves the vessel flew,
And tempests toss'd his shatter'd bark anew.
But Morpheus, ever prone to raise th' oppress'd,
To soothe the sad, and succour the distress'd,
Around the vanquish'd maid's inglorious head,
With lenient care, his drowsy pinions spread;
Plac'd her by laurel groves and chrystal streams,
And sooth'd her fancy with auspicious dreams.
Cheer'd with fresh hopes, she views the morning light,
And burns with ardour to renew the fight.





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