Ah! Syren Pleasure! when thy flatt'ring strains
Lur'd me to seek thee thro' thy flowery plains,
Taught from thy sparkling cup full joys to sip
And suck sweet poison from thy velvet lip,
Didst thou in opiate charms my Virtue steep, 5
Was Reason silent and did Conscience sleep?
How could I else enjoy thy faithless dreams,
And fancy day-light in thy meteor gleams,
Think all was Happiness that smiled like joy,
And with dear purchase seize each glittring toy?10
'Till, rous'd at length, deep rankling in my heart,
I felt the latent anguish of thy dart!
Oh! let the young and innocent beware,
Nor think uninjur'd to approach her snare!
Their surest conquest is the foe to shun,15
By fight infected, and by truce undone.
Secure, at distance let her shores be past,
Whose sight can poison, and whose breath can blast;
Let them not listen to her fatal song,
Nor trust her pictures, nor believe her tongue,20
Contentment blooms not on her glowing ground,
And round her splendid shrine no peace is found.
If once, enchanted by her magic charms,
They seek for bliss in Dissipation's arms,
If once they touch the limits of her realm,25
Offended Principle resigns the helm;
Simplicity forsakes the treacherous shore,
And once discarded she returns no more;
Thus the charm'd mariner on every side
Of poison'd Senegal's ill-omened tide, [2]  30
Eyes the rich carpet of the varied hue
And plains luxuriant opening to his view
Now the steep banks with towering forests crown'd
Cloath'd to the margin of the sloping ground,
Where with full foliage bending o'er the waves,35
Its verdant arms the spreading Mangrove laves;
And now smooth level lawns of deeper green
Betray the richness of th'untrodden scene;
Between the opening groves such prospects glow,
As art with mimic hand can ne'er bestow, 40
While lavish Nature wild profusion yields
And spreads unbid the rank uncultur'd fields;
Flings with fantastic hand in every gale
Ten thousand blossoms o'er each velvet vale,
And bids unclassed their fragrant beauties die 45
Far from the painter's hand or sage's eye.
From cloudless suns perpetual lustre streams,
And swarms of insects glisten in their beams.
Near and more near the heedless sailors steer,
Spread all their canvas and no warnings hear, 50
But gaze astonish'd on the enchanting shore
On forms magnificent ne'er seen before
Where on the edge of the clear liquid glass
The wondring beasts survey them as they pass,
And fearless bounding o'er their native green55
Adorn the landscape and enrich the scene.
Ah fatal scene! the deadly vapours rise
And swift the vegetable poison flies,
Putrescence loads the rank infected ground
Deceitful calms deal subtle death around60
While pale disease sheds thick unwholesome dews,
And wide their venom tainted gales diffuse
Even as they gaze their vital powers decay
Their wasted health & vigour melt away,
'Till quite extinct the animating fire65
Pale ghastly victims, they at length expire,
Of poisoned prospects which at distance charm'd
Bright to the eye, with desolation arm'd --


[1] EDITOR'S NOTE: "Pleasure" is printed in Psyche, with Other Poems without a date, without lines 19-20, 51-52, 61-62, and 67-68, and without Tighe's note to line 30 on the Senegal river. A 28-line extract from the poem appears in Mary, dated 1802. BACK

[2] EDITOR'S NOTE: Tighe's note: "Of poisonous Senegal's ill omened tide] The river Senegal annually overflows its banks, not as the Nile to administer health and plenty, but rendering the beautiful country which it thus visits so unwholesome as not only to be in itself unhabitable, but that it exhales such poisonous vapours as to be extremely noxious to the unguarded sailors who, allured by the luxurious appearance of the shore, venture up the mouth of the destructive river." BACK