To Myra, 1770, on receiving her Poem on Friendship
What Power can thus the pleasing passions warm?
’Tis Friendship drest in Myra’s winning form;
The sacred Power that tunes her charming Lays
Illumes this Breast with animating Rays.
What tho’ no Muse will deign to tune my Lyre
And tell the pleasure which thy strains inspire;
What though unfavored by the tuneful nine,
Yet Friendship’s tenderest feelings all are mine.
For Myra’s happiness this heart o’erflows
And gratitude within my bosom glows.
But Ah too weak this hand! These lays too faint!
The warm emotions of my heart to paint;
This wellmeant Lay with kind Indulgence view,
Inspir’d alone by gratitude and you.
Long as you tread the dubious path of Life
Where pain and pleasure hold continual strife,
May sacred Friendship’s heart enlivening smile
Soothe every sorrow, every pain beguile;
May social peace her halcyon Wing extend
O’er the retreat that holds my much lov’d Friend.
Far from her Couch may pain and languor fly,
And sweet Health sparkle in her speaking Eye;
May heartfelt Joy and cheerfulness serene
With brightest lustre gild each changing Scene;
And Oh may Fancy, wildly pleasing power,
Adorn thy path with many a fragrant flower,
The rural Muse her fairest Garland twine,
And sweet Contentment be forever Thine.
And long Oh long! in pity to her Friend
May Heaven My Myra to my wishes lend,
And when it calls her from this lower scene
May the last Messenger with smile serene
Dissolve with gentle stroke the mortal Ties
That hold her Spirit from her kindred Skies;
But while My Myra breathes this lower Air
Her tenderest friendship may her Sylvia share.
While Life informs this animated Frame,
My Heart must glow with friendship’s holy flame,
Happy if when I tune the artless Lay
Myra approving views the faint Essay.
Genius to Her thy choicest Gifts impart,
And gratitude expand her Sylvia’s heart.
Text: MS, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, STE 5/2 (the poem is a response to Mary Scott’s ‘On Friendship Address’d to Sylvia 1770’); see also STE 5/5/iii, and Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 3, pp. 67-68. Another poem by Scott, titled ‘To Sylvia 1770’, follows “To Myra, 1770,” in 5/2. Most likely Steele received these friendship poems during her visit to Scott in late July 1770. Some alterations in 5/5/iii are not in Steele’s hand; they may be by Scott herself. For Scott’s friendship poems to Steele, see Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 4, pp. 73-75.