ELEGY Written for Emily 1802.

Written for Emily
1802. [1] 

Fled are the summer hours of joy and love,
The brilliant season of delight is o'er,
Alone, mid leafless woods I silent rove,
The voice so dear enchants these bowers no more.
Yet sweet the stillness of this calm retreat,5
As toward the sunny bank I pensive stray,
The Muse affords her consolations sweet,
And soothes with memory's charms my lonely way.
Here, led by Flora, o'er the pathless wild,
I woo sweet nature in her private haunts,10
The rare flower which long neglected smil'd
My curious eye unspeakably enchants.
Ev'n now the season our mild autumn yields,
Forbids not yet my timid foot to roam,
A languid sun illumes still verdant fields,15
And many a ling'ring blossom still may bloom.
While smiling Science shews her Withering's page,
And half unveils her most attractive face;
Reveres the memory of the Swedish sage, [2] 
And bids me Nature's charms delighted trace.20
But if the gloomy clouds, or northern blast
Endear the comforts of our social hearth;
How swift the calm domestic hours are past!
How far superior to the hours of mirth!
Oft when my heart the call of joy would spurn,25
By sad involuntary gloom opprest;
To thee, my plaintive harp, I languid turn
Thy silver sounds can sooth my soul to rest.
Or, wrapt in lov'd imagination's dream,
I hear the voice, I see the form so dear,30
In visionary charms they present seem,
The well known accents vibrate in my ear.
I see those eyes of bright celestial blue,
Those laughing eyes, beam love and sympathy,
And o'er the mantling cheek the rosy hue,35
The blush of kindling hope, and tender joy.
I have not lost thee then, my soul's best part!
I still can hear thee speak of love and bliss,
Can pour out all the fulness of my heart,
Oh, what felicity can vie with this!40
How oft will fancy thro' the watchful nights
Picture thy form my sorrows to beguile!
The glance of soft affection now delights,
Now archly gay I see thy sportive smile!
I see thee oft with pensive, tender eye,45
Mark our blue hills thy gay horizon bound,
While fond imagination with a sigh
Measures the space of the far-distant ground.
Beyond those hills, constrain'd awhile to dwell,
Full many a lonely hour the thought can cheer,50
The shades of sorrow oft it can dispel,
And turn to tenderness the saddest tear.
But thou! whose image never quits this heart,
Art thou unmindful of thine absent love?
Ah no! I bid the cruel thought depart,55
And each suggestion of distrust reprove.
And yet, too oft awaking from my trance
My brilliant day-dream of unreal joy,
I think with anguish that thy tender glance
Has charm'd in vain my captivated eye.60
Sad victim of each heart-corroding care,
I think with pity on my future lot,
Ev'n now some happier eye thy smiles may share,
Thy vows of tenderness to me forgot.
On such sad doubts each trembling thought employ'd,65
Oh! what a dreary silence there appears,
Life offers nothing but a joyless void,
While my youth wastes in unavailing tears.
Thou can'st not see me in those cruel hours,
Thou know'st not love, but as he smiles, and charms;70
Thy stronger mind feels not dejection's powers
Nor dreads the pang which tenderness alarms.
Yet let thy heart the pains of absence share,
Oh be but constant, and I yet am blest!
Alive to each suspicion, kindly spare75
The trembling feelings of this anxious breast.


[1] EDITOR'S NOTE: "Elegy Written for Emily 1802" is printed without a title or date in Selena, where it is attributed to the character Lady Emily Trevallyn, who preserves it in a copy of William Withering's Botanical Arrangement of All the Vegetables Naturally Growing in Great Britain (1776). BACK

[2] EDITOR'S NOTE: Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), the father of modern taxonomy and author of Systema Naturae, (1735-1758), Philosophia Botanica (1751), Species Plantarum (1753), Genera Plantarum (1737), etc. BACK