Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ABELARD TO HELOISE, SELECTION, by JAMES CAWTHORN

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: O memory! Ingenious to revive
Last Line: And toss'd my infamy from tongue to tongue.

O MEMORY! ingenious to revive
Each fleeting hour, and teach the past to live,
Witness what conflicts this frail bosom tore!
What griefs I suffered, and what pangs I bore!
How long I struggled, laboured, strove to save
An heart that panted to be still a slave!
When youth, warmth, rapture, spirit, love, and flame,
Seized every sense, and burnt through all my frame;
From youth, warmth, rapture, to these wilds I fled,
My food the herbage, and the rock my bed.
There, while these venerable cloisters rise
O'er the bleak surge, and gain upon the skies,
My wounded soul indulged the tear to flow
O'er all her sad vicissitudes of woe;
Profuse of life, and yet afraid to die,
Guilt in my heart, and horror in my eye,
With ceaseless prayers, the whole artillery given
To win the mercies of offended Heaven,
Each hill, made vocal, echoed all around,
While my torn breast knock'd bleeding on the ground.
Yet, yet, alas! tho' all my moments fly
Stain'd by a tear, and darken'd in a sigh;
Tho' meagre fasts have on my cheek display'd
The dusk of death, and sunk me to a shade,
Spite of myself the still-empoisoning dart
Shoots through my blood, and drinks up all my heart;
My vows and wishes wildly disagree,
And grace itself mistakes my God for thee.

Athwart the glooms that wrap the midnight sky,
My Eloisa steals upon my eye;
For ever rises in the solar ray,
A phantom brighter than the blaze of day.
Where'er I go the visionary guest
Pants on my lip, or sinks upon my breast;
Unfolds her sweets, and, throbbing to destroy,
Winds round my heart in luxury of joy.
While loud hosannas shake the shrines around,
I hear her softer accents in the sound;
Her idol-beauties on each altar glare,
And Heaven much injured has but half my prayer.
No tears can drive her hence, no pangs control,
For every object brings her to my soul.

Last night, reclining on yon airy steep,
My busy eyes hung brooding o'er the deep;
The breathless whirlwinds slept in every cave,
And the soft moon-beam danced from wave to wave.
Each former bliss in this bright mirror seen,
With all my glories, dawned upon the scene,
Recalled the dear auspicious hour anew,
When my fond soul to Eloisa flew:
When, with keen speechless agonies opprest,
Thy frantic lover snatched thee to his breast,
Gaz'd on thy blushes, arm'd with every grace,
And saw the goddess beaming in thy face;
Saw thy wild, trembling, ardent wishes move,
Each pulse to rapture, and each glance to love.
But lo! the winds descend, the billows roar,
Foam to the clouds, and burst upon the shore.
Vast peals of thunder o'er the ocean roll,
The flame-wing'd lightning gleams from pole to pole.
At once the pleasing images withdrew,
And more than horrors crowded on my view.
Thy uncle's form, in all his ire array'd,
Serenely dreadful, stalk'd along the shade;
Pierc'd by his sword, I sunk upon the ground,
The spectre ghastly smil'd upon the wound;
A group of black Infernals round me hung,
And toss'd my infamy from tongue to tongue.

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