To Silvia (2)

My lovely Silvia, while in blooming youth

Your mental powers are active, sprightly, gay,

Attend the voice of friendship and of truth,

That courts your notice in the moral lay.

Those active powers the Lord of nature gave

To reason’s rule by choice alone confin’d,

For reason’s empire never knew a slave,

Her sway is gentle and her laws are kind.

Her subjects take their orders from her eye,

While she to each their various task assigns;

And now o’er nature’s ample field they fly,

A field far richer than Peruvian mines.

Here with unweary’d diligence they rove,

Collecting treasures to enrich the mind:

And many a flower and plant in dale or grove,

Of virtues rare and fadeless bloom they find.

And now with treasures fraught returning home,

Before their queen display the shining spoil,

Arrang’d in beauteous order round the dome,

Her approbation crowns the pleasing toil.

When chill’d by time’s cold hand, those sprightly powers

Inclin’d to rest, inactive, cease to roam,

Those mental stores shall cheer the wintery hours,

And flowers unfading breathe their sweets at home,

Extracting food amid the vernal bloom,

So flies th’ industrious bee around the vale,

With native skill she forms the waxen comb,

To keep for wintery days the rich regale.

Text: 1780, vol. 3, pp. 87-8; also STE 3/3/5, sheet 28, MS, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regents Park College; also Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 2 (ed. Julia B. Griffin), p. 58.