Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LOUISA; A TALE, by JANE BOWDLER



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LOUISA; A TALE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O lend your wings, ye fav'ring gales
Last Line: "or time, or death, destroy."
Subject(s): Love; Peace; Story-telling; Tragedy


"OLEND your wings, ye fav'ring gales,
"And gently wave the sea,
"And swell my husband's spreading sails,
"And waft him home to me!

"His toils and dangers all are past,
"And blest with fortune's store,
"From distant climes he comes at last
"To view his native shore.

"And with him comes the faithful youth,
"Who gain'd my daughter's love;
"Whose virtue, constancy, and truth,
"The coldest heart might move.

"May all the graces wait around,
"And heighten all her charms!——
"He comes, with wealth and glory crown'd,
"To my LOUISA'S arms.

"Now Fancy flies to distant days,
"And views the lovely pair,
"And hears the voice of general praise
"Their matchless worth declare.

"How shall thy mother's heart expand
"With joys unknown before,
"When thousands bless the bounteous hand
"That gave thee wealth and pow'r!

"Do I not see a distant sail
"O'er yonder waves appear?—
"Our ardent vows at length prevail,
"My heart proclaims them near.

"With us in every joy to share,
"Our much-loved heroes come—
"Propitious Heaven, O hear our pray'r!'
"And guide them safely home!"

'Propitious Heaven, O hear our pray'r!'
LOUISA trembling cry'd,
For ah! the chill blast waved her hair,
The rising cloud she spy'd.

Near and more near the tempest drew,
The clouds obscur'd the sky,
The winds in hoarser murmurs blew,
The waves were toss'd on high:

And now they dash against the shore,
And shake the solid ground;
The thunder rolls, the torrents roar,
The lightnings flash around.——

Ah! who can paint LOUISA'S fear,
Her agonies impart?——
The shrieks of death assail her ear,
And horror chills her heart.

At length, the raging tempest o'er,
She view'd the fatal coast;
A wreck appear'd upon the shore—
She sunk—in terror lost.

"My life! my joy! my only love!"
A voice at distance cries:—
That voice her inmost soul could move.
She starts with wild surprise.

Now o'er the beach with eager haste
She sees her HENRY fly:
No more she feels her terrors past:
'Twas bliss—'twas extacy!

Her aged father too appears,
He press'd her to his heart;
But, as he press'd, his streaming tears
Some secret grief impart.

His much-lov'd wife in transport flies,
In all their joy to share;
Yet views her lord with anxious eyes,
And feels a tender fear.

The fond embrace he oft renews,
And oft, with grief oppress'd,
The fatal wreck again he views,
And smites his trembling breast.

"Lo! there," he cry'd, "the sad remains
"Of my once boasted store,
"For all the fruit of all our pains
"Is sunk—to rise no more.

"Yet should this breast ne'er heave a groan
"For all my fruitless care:
"Did sorrow seize on me alone,
"My woes I well could bear:

"But ah! for thee my heart must grieve,
"For thee I priz'd my gain:—
"And did I then my child deceive
"With hopes believed in vain?

"Still to our humble home confin'd,
"Must rural tasks employ
"A nymph to shine in courts design'd,
"And brighten ev'ry joy.

"In thought, by pleasing hope inspir'd,
"I saw my child appear,
"By all belov'd, by all admir'd,
"The fairest of the fair.

"I saw her rais'd to pomp and state,
"And, rich in fortune's store,
"I heard the praises of the great,
"The blessings of the poor.

"With fond delight my bosom glow'd,
"By soothing fancy led,
"And Heaven the wish'd success bestow'd:—
"But ah! the dream is fled.

"And thou, dear partner of each care,
"This anxious heart has known;
"Thou too, with me, hast felt thy share
"Of hopes—for ever gone.

"Thy thoughts, like mine, in time to come,
"A scene of bliss enjoy'd,
"Till one sad moment's fatal doom
"The airy good destroy'd.

"And thou with me our loss must mourn,
"Thy tears with mine descend;
"And thus, alas! my wish'd return
"Our transient joy must end."

While thus with agonizing sighs
They view'd the fatal place,
LOUISA'S mild, yet stedfast eyes,
Were fix'd on HENRY'S face.

By her own heart, his heart she knew,
She read his virtues there:
Ah! blest indeed the chosen few
Who thus each thought can share!

Serene and firm their joys shall prove,
And every change endure,
No mean suspicion taint their love,
In just esteem secure.

And now her soul with transport glows,
And animates each grace,
A smile, beyond what pleasure knows,
Adorns her lovely face.

'And is it thus, my friends,' she cry'd,
'When every storm is past,
'When all our fears at once subside,
'Thus do we meet at last?

'O lift with me your hearts to Heaven
'In strains of ardent praise,
'With transport own the blessings giv'n,
'To crown our future days.

'How oft my servent pray'rs arose,
'While terrors shook my soul,
'To HIM who could the storm compose,
'And winds and waves controul!

'My prayers are heard—my fears are gone,
'My much-lov'd friends I see,
'I feel a joy till now unknown,—
'And can ye grieve for me?

'Content I shar'd an humble fate,
'Nor wish'd in courts to shine;—
'The airy dream which pleas'd of late
'With joy I now resign.

'What though no scenes of gay delight
'Amuse each idle guest,
'Nor costly luxuries invite
'To share the splendid feast!

'Yet Peace and Innocence shall smile,
'And purer joys afford,
'And Love, secure from doubt or guile,
'Shall bless our humble board.

'What though we boast nor wealth, nor pow'r,
'Each sorrow to relieve,
'A little, from our little store,
'The poor shall yet receive:

'And words of peace shall sooth the woe
'Which riches could not heal,
'And sweet Benevolence bestow
'An aid which all must feel.

'Beyond the reach of fortune's pow'r
'Her gentle force extends,
'She cheers affliction's darkest hour,
'And joy her steps attends.

'Though here to narrow bounds confin'd,
'Ordain'd to lowly views,
'For ever free, the virtuous mind
'Her glorious path pursues;

'In prosp'rous state, o'er all she show'rs
'The various blessings given;
'In humble life, exerts her pow'rs,
'And trusts the rest to Heav'n.

'The losty dwellings of the great
'Full many a wretch contain,
'Who feels the cares of pomp and state,
'But seeks their joys in vain:

'Yet starting from his short repose,
'Alarm'd at ev'ry blast,
'With anxious fear he dreads to lose
'That good he ne'er could taste.

'And oft beneath the silent shade
'A noble heart remains,
'Where Heaven's bright image is display'd,
'And ev'ry virtue reigns.

'Sweet peace and joy that heart shall find,
'Unmov'd by grief or pain:——
'Be such the lot to us assign'd,
'And fortune's frowns are vain.——

'O ye, who taught me first to know
'Bright Virtue's sacred flame,
To whom far more than life I owe,
'Who more than duty claim;

'Ah! let me dry each tender tear,
'And ev'ry doubt destroy,
'Dispel at once each anxious fear,
'And call you back to joy.

'And thou, my Henry! dearer far
'Than fortune's richest prize,
'I know thy heart——and thou canst dare
'Her treasures to despise:

'A purer bliss that heart shall prove
'From care and sorrow free,
'Content with innocence and love,
'With poverty and me.'——

In transport lost, and freed from fears,
The happy parents smil'd,
And blushing dry'd the falling tears,
And clasp'd their matchless child.

Her HENRY, fix'd in silent gaze,
Beheld his lovely bride:
"O Heav'n! accept my humble praise,"
At length entranc'd he cry'd.

"To all my storms and dangers past,
"If joys like these succeed,
"My utmost wish is crown'd at last,
"And I am rich indeed.

"Then rise, ye raging tempests! rise,
"And fortune's gifts destroy;—
"Thy HENRY gains the noblest prize,
"He feels the purest joy.

"Extatic bliss his heart shall prove,
"From care and sorrow free,
"While blest with Innocence and Love,
"With boundless wealth—in thee.

"Sweet Hope o'er every morn shall shed
"Her soul-enliv'ning ray;
"Celestial Peace, by virtue led,
"Shall cheer each closing day.

"Far from ambition's train remov'd,
"And pleasure's giddy throng,
"Our blameless hours, by Heaven approv'd,
"Shall gently glide along.

"O may I catch that sacred fire
"Which animates thy breast;
"Like thee to noblest heights aspire,
"Like thee be truly blest!

"Thus shall the pleasing charm of love
"Bright virtue's force increase—
"Thus every changing scene shall prove
"The road to lasting peace.

"And thus, thro' life, our hearts shall know
"A more than mortal joy,
"Beyond what fortune can bestow,
"Or time, or death, destroy."





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