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from Moores Fables For Girls





'Tis said of WIDOW, MAID, and WIFE,
That honour is a WOMAN'S life;
Unhappy sex! who only claim
A being in the breath of fame,
Which, tainted, not the quick'ning gales
That sweep SABAEA'S spicy vales,
Nor all the healing sweets restore,
That breathe along ARABIA'S shore.

The trav'ller, if he chance to stray,
May turn uncensur'd to his way;
Polluted streams again are pure,
And deepest wounds admit a cure;
But WOMAN! no redemption knows,
The wounds of honour never close.

Tho' distant ev'ry hand to guide,
Nor skill'd on life's tempestuous tide,
If once her feeble bark recede,
Or deviate from the course decreed,
In vain she seeks the friendly shore,
Her swifter folly flies before;
The circling ports against her close,
And shut the wand'rer from repose,
Till by conflicting waves opprest,
Her found'ring pinnace sinks to rest.

Are there no off'rings to atone
For but a single error?--None!
Tho' WOMAN is avow'd of old
No daughter of celestial mould;
Her temp'ring not without allay,
And form'd but of the finer clay;
We challenge from the mortal dame,
The strength angelic natures claim;
Nay more--for sacred stories tell
That ev'n immortal angels fell.

Whatever fills the teeming sphere
Of humid earth, and ambient air,
With varying elements endu'd,
Was form'd to fall, and rise renew'd.

The stars no fix'd duration know;
Wide oceans ebb, again to flow;
The moon repletes her waning face,
All-beauteous, from her late disgrace;
And suns, that mourn approaching night,
Refulgent rise, with new-born light.

In vain may death and time subdue,
While nature mints her race anew,
And holds some vital spark apart,
Like virtue, hid in ev'ry heart;
'Tis hence, reviving warmth is seen,
To clothe a naked world in green;
No longer bared by winter's cold,
Again the gates of life unfold;
Again each insect tries his wing,
And lifts fresh pinions on the spring;
Again from ev'ry latent root
The bladed stem and tendril shoot,
Exhaling incense to the skies,
Again to perish, and to rise.

And must weak WOMAN then disown
The change to which a world is prone?
In one meridian brightness shine,
And ne'er like ev'ning suns decline?
Resolv'd and firm alone?--Is this
What we demand of WOMAN?--Yes!

But should the spark of vestal fire,
In some unguarded hour expire;
Or should the nightly thief invade
HESPERIA'S chaste and sacred shade,
Of all the blooming spoils possess'd,
The dragon, honour, charm'd to rest,
Shall VIRTUE'S flame no more return?
No more with virgin splendour burn?
No more the ravag'd garden blow
With spring's succeeding blossom?--No!
Pity may mourn, but not restore,
And WOMAN falls--to rise no more.


Within this sublunary sphere,
A country lies--no matter where;
The clime may readily be found,
By all who tread poetic ground;
A stream, call'd LIFE, across it glides,
And equally the land divides;
And here, of VICE the province lies,
And there, the hills of VIRTUE rise.

Upon a mountain's airy stand,
Whose summit look'd to either land,
An ancient pair their dwelling chose,
As well for prospect as repose;
For mutual faith they long were fam'd,
And TEMP'RANCE, and RELIGION, nam'd.

A num'rous progeny divine
Confess'd the honours of their line;
But in a little daughter fair
Was center'd more than half their care;
For heav'n, to gratulate her birth,
Gave signs of future joy to earth.
White was the robe this infant wore,
And CHASTITY the name she bore.

As now the maid in stature grew,
(A flow'r just op'ning to the view)
Oft thro' her native lawns she stray'd,
And wrestling with the lambkins play'd;
Her looks diffusive sweets bequeath'd,
The breeze grew purer as she breath'd,
The morn her radiant blush assum'd,
The spring with earlier fragrance bloom'd,
And NATURE yearly took delight,
Like her, to dress the world in white.

But when her rising form was seen
To reach the crisis of fifteen;
Her parents up the mountain's head,
With anxious step, their darling led;
By turns they snatch'd her to their breast,
And thus the fears of age express'd:

"O joyful cause of many a care!
O daughter, too divinely fair!
Yon world, on this important day,
Demands thee to a dang'rous way;
A painful journey all must go,
Whose doubtful period none can know;
Whose due direction who can find,
Where REASON'S mute, and SENSE is blind!
Ah! what unequal leaders these,
Thro' such a wide perplexing maze!
Then mark the warnings of the wise,
And learn what love and years advise.

"Far to the right thy prospect bend,
Where yonder tow'ring hills ascend;
Lo! there the arduous path's in view,
Which VIRTUE, and her sons, pursue;
With toil, o'er less'ning earth they rise,
And gain, and gain upon the skies.--
Narrow's the way her children tread,
No walk for pleasure smoothly spread;
But rough, and difficult, and steep,
Painful to climb, and hard to keep.

"Fruits immature those lands dispense,
A food indelicate to sense,
Of taste unpleasant, yet from those
Pure HEALTH, with cheerful VIGOUR flows;
And strength unfeeling of decay,
Throughout the long laborious way.

"Hence, as they scale that heav'nly road,
Each limb is lighten'd of its load:
From earth refining still they go,
And leave the mortal weight below;
Then spreads the strait, the doubtful clears,
And smooth the rugged path appears;
For custom turns fatigue to ease,
And, taught by VIRTUE, PAIN can please.

"At length, the toilsome journey o'er,
And near the bright celestial shore,
A gulf, black, fearful, and profound,
Appears, of either world the bound.
Thro' darkness, leading up to light,
Sense backward shrinks, and shuns the sight;
For there the transitory train,
Of time, and form, and care, and pain,
And matter's gross incumb'ring mass,
Man's late associates, cannot pass,
But sinking, quit th' immortal charge,
And leave the wond'ring soul at large;
Lightly she wings her obvious way,
And mingles with eternal day.

"Thither, O thither, wing thy speed,
Tho' PLEASURE charm, or PAIN impede;
To such th' all-bounteous pow'r has giv'n,
For present earth, a future heav'n;
For trivial loss, unmeasur'd gain,
And endless bliss, for transient pain.
Then fear, ah! fear, to turn thy sight,
Where yonder flow'ry fields invite;
Wide on the left the path-way bends,
And with pernicious ease descends;
There, sweet to sense, and fair to show,
New-planted EDEN seems to blow;
Trees that delicious poison bear,
For DEATH is vegetable there.

"Hence is the frame of health unbrac'd,
Each sinew slack'ning at the taste;
The soul to passion yields her throne,
And sees with organs not her own;
While, like the slumb'rer in the night,
Pleas'd with the shadowy dream of light,
Before her alienated eyes
The scenes of fairy-land arise;
The puppet-world's amusing show,
Dipt in the gaily colour'd bow;
Sceptres, and wreaths, and glitt'ring things,
The toys of infants and of kings,
That tempt along the baneful plain,
The idly wise, and lightly vain;
Till verging on the gully shore,
Sudden they sink, to rise no more.

"But list to what thy FATES declare,
Tho' thou art WOMAN, frail as fair,
If once thy sliding foot should stray,
Once quit yon heav'n-appointed way,
For thee, lost maid, for thee alone,
Nor pray'rs shall plead, nor tears atone;
Reproach, scorn, infamy, and hate,
On thy returning steps shall wait.--
Thy form be loath'd by ev'ry eye,
And ev'ry foot thy presence fly."

Thus arm'd with words of potent sound,
Like guardian-angels plac'd around;
A charm, by truth divinely cast,
Forward our young advent'rer pass'd.
Forth from her sacred eye-lids sent,
Like morn, fore-running, radiance went,
While HONOUR, hand-maid, late assign'd,
Upheld her lucid train behind.

Awe-struck, the much-admiring crowd
Before the virgin-vision bow'd;
Gaz'd with an ever-new delight,
And caught fresh virtues at the sight;
For not of earth's unequal frame
They deem'd the heav'n-compounded dame,
If matter, sure the most refin'd,
High-wrought, and temper'd into mind,
Some darling daughter of the day,
And body'd by her native ray.

Where'er she passes, thousands bend,
And thousands, where she moves, attend;
Her ways observant eyes confess,
Her steps pursuing praises bless;
While to the elevated maid
Oblations, as to HEAV'N, are paid.

'Twas on an ever-blithsome day,
The jovial birth of rosy MAY,
When genial warmth, no more suppress'd,
New melts the frost in every breast;
The cheek with secret flushing dies,
And looks kind things from chastest eyes;
The SUN with healthier visage glows,
Aside his clouded kerchief throws,
And dances up th' ethereal plain,
Where late he us'd to climb with pain;
While NATURE, as from bonds set free,
Springs out, and gives a loose to glee.

And now for momentary rest,
The nymph her travell'd step repress'd,
Just turn'd to view the stage attain'd,
And glory'd in the height she gain'd.

Out-stretch'd before her wide survey,
The realms of sweet PERDITION lay,
And pity touch'd her soul with woe,
To see a world so lost below;
When straight the breeze began to breathe
Airs, gently wafted from beneath,
That bore commission'd witchcraft thence,
And reach'd her sympathy of sense;
No sounds of discord, that disclose
A people sunk, and lost in woes;
But as of present good possess'd,
The very triumph of the bless'd;
The maid in wrapt attention hung,
While thus approaching SIRENS sung.

'Hither, fairest, hither haste,
Brightest beauty, come and taste
What the pow'rs of bliss unfold;
Joys too mighty to be told;
Taste what ecstasies they give,
Dying raptures taste, and live.

'In thy lap, disdaining measure,
NATURE empties all her treasure;
Soft desires, that sweetly languish,
Fierce delights, that rise to anguish:
Fairest, dost thou yet delay?
Brightest beauty, come away!

'List not, when the froward chide,
Sons of pedantry and pride;
Snarlers, to whose feeble sense
APRIL sun-shine is offence;
Age and envy will advise,
Ev'n against the joys they prize.
Come, in PLEASURE'S balmy bowl
Slake the thirstings of thy soul,
'Till thy raptur'd pow'rs are fainting
With enjoyment, past the painting:
Fairest, dost thou yet delay?
Brightest beauty, come away!'

So sung the SIRENS, as of yore,
Upon the false AUSONIAN shore;
And, O! for that preventing chain,
That bound ULYSSES on the main,
That so our FAIR ONE might withstand
The covert ruin now at hand.

The song her charm'd attention drew,
When now the tempters stood in view;
CURIOSITY with prying eyes,
And hand of busy, bold emprize;
Like HERMES, feather'd were her feet,
And like fore-running fancy fleet;
By search untaught, by toil untir'd,
To novelty she still aspir'd,
Tasteless of ev'ry good possess'd,
And but in expectation bless'd.

With her, associate, PLEASURE came,
Gay PLEASURE, frolic-loving dame!
Her mien, all swimming in delight,
Her beauties, half reveal'd to sight;
Loose flow'd her garments from the ground
And caught the kissing winds around.
As erst MEDUSA'S looks were known
To turn beholders into stone,
A dire reversion here they felt,
And in the eye of pleasure melt.
Her glance of sweet persuasion charm'd,
Unnerv'd the strong, the steel'd disarm'd;
No safety, ev'n the flying find,
Who, vent'rous, looks not once behind.

Thus was the much-admiring maid,
While distant, more than half betray'd.
With smiles, and adulation bland,
They join'd her side, and seiz'd her hand;
Their touch envenom'd sweets instill'd,
Her frame with new pulsations thrill'd,
While half consenting, half denying,
Reluctant now, and now complying,
Amidst a war of hopes and fears,
Of trembling wishes, smiling tears,
Still down, and down, the winning pair
Compell'd the struggling, yielding fair.

As when some stately vessel, bound
To blest ARABIA'S distant ground,
Borne from her courses, haply lights
Where BARCA'S flow'ry clime invites;
Conceal'd around whose treach'rous land,
Lurks the dire rock, and dang'rous sand;
The pilot warns, with sail and oar,
To shun the much-suspected shore
In vain: the tide too subtly strong,
Still bears the wrestling bark along,
Till found'ring, she resigns to fate,
And sinks, o'erwhelmn'd, with all her freight.

So baffling ev'ry bar to sin,
And heav'n's own pilot plac'd within,
Along the devious smooth descent,
With pow'rs increasing as they went,
The DAMES, accustom'd to subdue,
As with a rapid current drew;
And o'er the fatal bounds convey'd
The lost, the long-reluctant maid.

Here stop, ye fair ones, and beware,
Nor send your fond affections there;
Yet, yet your darling, now deplor'd,
May turn, to you and HEAV'N restor'd;
Till then, with weeping HONOUR, wait
The servant of her better fate,
With HONOUR left upon the shore,
Her friend and handmaid now no more;
Nor, with the guilty world, upbraid
The fortunes of a wretch betray'd;
But o'er her failing cast a veil,
Rememb'ring you, yourselves, are frail.
And now, from all-enquiring light,
Fast fled the conscious shades of night;
The damsel, from a short repose,
Confounded at her plight, arose.

As when with slumb'rous weight opprest,
Some wealthy miser sinks to rest,
Where felons eye the glitt'ring prey,
And steal his hoard of joys away:
He, borne where golden INDUS streams,
Of pearl and quarry'd di'mond dreams,
Like MIDAS, turns the glebe to ore,
And stands all wrapt amidst his store;
But wakens, naked, and despoil'd
Of that for which his years had toil'd.

So far'd the NYMPH, her treasure flown,
And turn'd, like NIOBE, to stone;
Within, without, obscure and void,
She felt all ravag'd, all destroy'd.
And, O! thou curs'd insidious coast,
Are these the blessings thou canst boast?
These, VIRTUE! these the joys they find,
Who leave thy heav'n-topt hills behind!
Shade me, ye pines, ye caverns hide,
Ye mountains cover me! she cry'd.

Her trumpet SLANDER rais'd on high,
And told the tidings to the sky;
CONTEMPT discharg'd a living dart,
A side-long viper to her heart;
REPROACH breath'd poisons o'er her face,
And soil'd, and blasted ev'ry grace;
Officious SHAME, her handmaid new,
Still turn'd the mirror to her view;
While those in crimes the deepest dy'd,
Approach'd to whiten at her side;
And ev'ry lewd insulting dame
Upon her folly rose to fame.

What should she do; attempt once more
To gain the late-deserted shore?
So trusting, back the mourner flew,
As fast the train of fiends pursue.

Again the farther shore's attain'd,
Again the land of VIRTUE gain'd;
But ECHO gathers in the wind,
And shows her instant foes behind.
Amaz'd! with headlong speed she tends,
Where late she left an host of friends;
Alas! those shrinking friends decline,
Nor longer own that form divine;
With fear they mark the following cry,
And from the lonely trembler fly;
Or backward drive her on the coast
Where PEACE was wreck'd, and HONOUR lost.

From earth thus hoping aid in vain;
To HEAV'N, not daring to complain;
No truce, by hostile CLAMOUR giv'n,
And from the face of FRIENDSHIP driv'n;
The NYMPH sunk prostrate on the ground,
With all her weight of woes around.

Enthron'd within a circling sky,
Upon a mount, o'er mountains high,
All radiant sat, as in a shrine,
VIRTUE, first effluence divine;
Far, far above the scenes of woe,
That shut this cloud-wrapt world below:
Superior goddess! essence bright!
Beauty of uncreated light,
Whom should mortality survey,
As doom'd upon a certain day;
The breath of frailty must expire,
The world dissolve in living fire;
The gems of heav'n and solar flame,
Be quench'd by her eternal beam,
And nature, quick'ning in her eye,
To raise a new-born phoenix, die.


Hence, unreveal'd to mortal view,
A veil around her form she threw,
Which three sad sisters of the shade,
PAIN, CARE, and MELANCHOLY, made.

Thro' this her all-inquiring eye,
Attentive from her station high,
Beheld, abandon'd to despair,
The ruins of her fav'rite fair;
And with a voice, whose awful sound
Appall'd the guilty world around,
Bid the tumultuous winds be still;
To numbers bow'd each list'ning hill;
Uncurl'd the surging of the main,
And smooth'd the thorny bed of pain;
The golden harp of heav'n she strung,
And thus the tuneful goddess sung:

"Lovely PENITENT, arise,
Come, and claim thy kindred skies;
Come, thy sister angels say,
Thou hast wept thy stains away.

"Let experience now decide,
'Twixt the good and evil, try'd,
In the smooth enchanted ground,
Say, unfold the treasures found.

"Structures, rais'd by morning dreams,
Sands that trip the flitting streams,
Down that anchors on the air,
Clouds that paint their changes there.

"Seas that smoothly dimpling lie,
While the storm impends on high,
Showing in an obvious glass,
Joys that in possession pass.

"Transient, fickle, light, and gay,
Flatt'ring, only to betray;
What, alas! can life contain?
Life, like all its circles, vain.

"Will the STORK, intending rest,
On the billow build her nest?
Will the BEE demand his store
From the bleak and bladeless shore!

"MAN alone, intent to stray,
Ever turns from WISDOM'S way;
Lays up wealth in foreign land,
Sows the sea, and plows the sand.

"Soon this elemental mass,
Soon th' encumb'ring world shall pass;
Form be wrapt in wasting fire,
TIME be spent, and LIFE expire.

"Then, ye boasted works of men!
Where is your asylum then?
Sons of PLEASURE, sons of CARE,
Tell me, mortals, tell me where?

"Gone, like traces on the deep,
Like a sceptre grasp'd in sleep;
Dews exhal'd from morning glades,
Melting snows, and gliding shades.

"Pass the world, and what's behind?
Virtue's gold, by fire refin'd;
From an universe deprav'd,
From the wreck of nature sav'd.

"Like the life-supporting grain,
Fruit of patience and of pain,
On the swain's autumnal day,
Winnow'd from the chaff away.

"Little TREMBLER, fear no more,
Thou hast plenteous crops in store;
Seeds, by genial sorrows sown,
More than all thy scorners own.

"What, tho' hostile earth despise,
Heaven beholds with gentler eyes;
Heav'n thy friendless steps shall guide,
Cheer thy hours, and guard thy side.

"When the fatal trump shall sound,
When th' immortals pour around,
Heav'n shall thy return attest,
Hail'd by myriads of the bless'd.

"Little native of the skies,
Lovely PENITENT, arise,
Calm thy bosom, clear thy brow,
VIRTUE is thy sister now.

"More delightful are my woes
Than the rapture PLEASURE knows;
Richer far the weeds I bring
Than the robes that grace a king.

"On my wars of shortest date,
Crowns of endless triumph wait;
On my cares a period bless'd,
On my toils, eternal rest.

"Come, with VIRTUE at thy side,
Come, be ev'ry bar defy'd,
Till we gain our native shore;
Sister, come, and turn no more."





Next: Love And Vanity

Previous: The Sparrow And The Dove



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