LA CITTADINA Written Jan: 1799

LA CITTADINA
Written Jan:y
1799 [1] 

Farewell, ye leafless woods!
Which dreary frown o'er the swelled, turbid floods;
Your rude tempestuous roar
Shall howl discordant in my ears no more:
Congenial is your shade5
To the sad Lover and forsaken Maid.
Here spread your sombre gloom,
And 'mid the frozen plains your brownest tints assume.
Hence you unsocial band!
Retirement, and her offspring mute,10
Study, who drives afar with ebon wand
Joy's jocund voice, and Pleasure's silver lute,
Pale science with her patient lamp,
Silence, assiduous Thought,
Calm Contemplation, by the Muses taught,15
And Application whom no toils can damp,
With stooping gait, contracted brow,
And eyes whose keen research would no repose allow.
But come, ye dear remember'd joys,
Hail delightful smoke and noise,20
The hurried morn, the daily stroll,
Where the gilded chariots roll,
While in every crowded street
Pleas'd the lounging gazers meet,
Glitt'ring shops, and splendid sights,25
Gaiety's long festive nights,
Balls and concerts, routs and plays,
Where the midnight flambeaux blaze,
Joys that gem dark winter's crown,
All the dear delights of Town.30
At the call of mirth and sport
Hope invites us to resort;
Now let plumy-footed Glee
And ever new Variety,
Lead the sprightly hours along,35
Festive mirth, and choral song;
Hail busy Town! and hail with thee
Smiling, lov'd Society!
Welcome frolick's laughing train,
Now commences Pleasure's reign;40
Quick Imagination pass
Before my eyes thy magic glass,
Paint the scenes so bright, so gay,
The lighted hall at once display,
Let me hear the jocund strain,45
View the light fantastic train,
As with "many twinkling" feet [2] 
The measur'd cadence oft they beat,
Wreath'd with ever blooming flowers,
Forgetting the uncounted hours,50
Where the brisk, unwearied viol
Calls each active grace to trial,
While the gliding, happy maid
Conscious views the homage paid
From the circling, crowded rows,55
Glances of admiring beaux!
Round the glowing fair they run
When her pleasing task is done,
Smiles, and adulation bland
Eager ask her vacant hand,60
'Till her soft voice, and melting eyes
Declare what youth obtains the prize.
Short the toil, the rest how sweet,
When delighted partners meet,
Where no prudent Chaperone's eye65
The dangerous whisper can espy,
And the heedless, happy band
All around them careless stand;
Or when the signal bids them share
The banquet spread with generous care,70
The watchful youth attentive flies,
Where his favorite maid he spies,
Her yielding hand he then may press,
And every tender hope confess,
And every swain declare his love,75
While soft'ning eyes the tale approve.
Fancy scenes like this bestows
Images like these she shews,
As thro' the crowd and mingling dance
Quick I send my eager glance,80
And as some well-known friend I spy,
The sudden start, the sparkling eye,
Joy's brilliant smile, and roseate glow
Speak with power no words can know.
Let such lively warm delights85
Animate remember'd nights;
And not unfrequent may my ear
Bannister, or Siddons hear, [3] 
And gratify my curious eyes
With all a decent stage supplies;90
And oft with soothing, magic power,
Let music charm the evening hour,
Warbling soft his melting lays,
Such emotions skill'd to raise,
As the feeling breast may move95
To tenderness, and tranquil Love:
Me eloquence shall oft invite
Watchful to pass th'unwearied night,
When 'midst the Senate's crowded walls
On truth and virtue loud he calls,100
And bids th'unbiass'd patriot free
Nobly stand forth with energy;
Or leads me to the sacred shrine
Where charity and pity shine,
Where pious hopes the soul inspire,105
And kindling breathe celestial fire,
While mute, enraptur'd crowds attend
The widow's and the orphan's friend.
Thus let each feeling fast be bound
By soft persuasion's silver sound110
'Till sweetly stealing o'er my soul
The smooth, melodious current roll;
And every captivated sense
Own the powers of Eloquence.
Oft, when calmest hours delight,115
The chosen few whom we invite,
Meeting at the close of day,
In concert decent, sprightly, gay,
Bless my home, dear cherished centre!
Where no visitors can enter,120
From intrusion sweetly free,
Banish'd all formality.
There we taste serenest joys,
Free from rude and boistrous noise
There the soul delights to meet125
Kindred soul in converse sweet,
There the heart expands, and there
Benevolence and peace appear:
The anxious brow we there unbend,
And every eye reflects a friend.130
Reserve's cold frost there melts away
Beneath the social, genial ray,
While around the blazing pile
The close-contracted circle smile;
Or at the board the sparkling bowl135
Animates the brilliant soul,
And mingling there with wit, we see
Sense and calm sobriety,
Mild indulgence, white-robed candour,
Warding off the shafts of slander,140
To truth's just sentence still referring,
Or thro' partial kindness erring;
And evermore our feasts to bless
A constant guest be Cheerfulness.
There oft let genius guide the tongue,145
And taste approve th'unlaboured song,
Let partial judgment smile serene,
Or criticize with gentlest mien;
And still refine our merriment
Glist'ning, tender Sentiment!150
Sweet dove-ey'd virgin, whom of yore
Venus to Apollo bore, [4] 
And, gifted by the sacred nine,
Plac'd her near Dian's silver shrine;
That her soft voice might pity move,155
Excuse the faults of erring Love,
And for her brother's crimes atone,
With delicacy all her own:
Pleas'd with the infants gentle charms,
The Graces nurs'd her in their arms;160
Smiled at her pains, her timid fear,
The ready blush, the starting tear,
Inspired her lips, and as she grew
Taught her each winning art they knew;
Her quick perception, liquid tones,165
All her father's genius owns;
While her fascinating eyes,
Balmy breath, and melting sighs,
The tender smile, the swelling breast
Shew the Queen of Love confest.170
Hand in hand with dimpled Mirth
Still may she grace our social hearth,
While Love and Friendship hover round
The pure & consecrated ground;
Oh hours of bliss! Oh nights divine!175
When shall such feasts again be mine?
Less bright were those which once could charm
The bard within his Sabine farm, [5] 
And such to me could Town afford
When peace, & pleasure bless'd my board,180
And such to me if thou canst give
Town in thee I still would live!

Notes

[1] EDITOR'S NOTE: "La Cittadina Written Jan:y 1799" does not appear in Psyche, with Other Poems or Mary; Hamilton includes a copy of it in NLI MS 4801 as "La Cittadina: On Leaving Rossana 1798" (the source text for Collected Poems and Journals) and refers to it in her biography of Mary Tighe (NLI MS 4804). Hamilton omits lines 125-26 and garbles lines 139-42. January marked the beginning of the "season" for landowning families, who would leave their country homes and visit town (Dublin or London) for parties, theater, and politics. The illustration shows the distant prospect of Dublin (with the distinctive dome of the Four Courts). BACK

[2] EDITOR'S NOTE: Thomas Gray, The Progress of Poesy (1757), 1.3.11: "Glance their many-twinkling feet" (on Cytherea's day). BACK

[3] EDITOR'S NOTE: Tighe refers to the renowned Romantic-era actors John Bannister (1760-1836) and Sarah Siddons (1755-1831). BACK

[4] EDITOR'S NOTE: A reference to Harmony, the daughter of Venus and Mars. BACK

[5] EDITOR'S NOTE: A reference to Horace, whose patron Maecenas gave him the Sabine farm where Horace lived and wrote. BACK

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