To Myra, 1772

From scenes where Solitude and Silence reign

And gentle peace adorns the smiling plain,

Far from the toils and pageantry of state

And all the busy World calls gay or great,

To Thee these simple artless Lays I send

My Lov’d Companion, My Indulgent Friend.

Fairer to me my dear lov’d native scene,

The Corn-clad Hill, the Stream, the daisied Green,

The scatter’d Village and the lowly Tower,

Than all the Charms inventive Art can show’r.

Ah! would my Myra bless this calm retreat

With Friendship, Peace, and Innocence replete,

A livelier Joy would each lov’d Object yield.

To me more fair the Garden, Hill and Field

Now welcome Spring renews her vivid reign

And flow’rs reviving deck the verdant plain.

When Evening spreads around her grateful Gloom

To me more pleasing than the Glare of Noon,

Give me to roam o’er these sequester’d plains

And tune to Friendship my unartful strains;

What time the pale Moon sheds her silver beams

Let me indulge my wildly soothing Dreams.

O blest Retirement how I love thy shade!

Where the dull forms of Fashion ne’er invade.

O! bear me to some deep embowering gloom

Awfully silent as the peaceful Tomb;

There wrapt in pensive pleasing thought I’ll stray

And muse the silent stealing hours away,

Reflect on all the empty scenes of Life

And smile at all its pleasures and its strife.

Farewell the fairy scene which fancy drew

Of pleasures “ever blooming ever new,”

Farewell the dreams by soothing hope inspir’d,

Farewell the scenes by thoughtless youth admir’d,

Of Noise and Nonsense, Vanity and Show,

Unreal Pleasure and substantial woe;

Where Complaisance drest in unmeaning Smiles

In Friendship’s Garb the unwary Heart beguiles,

Where sneering Wit and empty Mirth reside

And all the various Family of Pride,

The Heart susceptible of others’ woe,

The tender tear Compassion prompts to flow,

The soft Emotions of the feeling Mind,

And all the Raptures of the Soul refin’d –

These serve as themes for empty Ridicule

And Sensibility denotes a Fool.

From scenes like these Oh! May I ever fly

Nor view their Glitter with a wishful Eye.

Within this silent, solitary Cell

Unknown, unenvy’d may I ever dwell.

And may My Friend who first awak’d my Lyre

Accept the Lay her charming Strains inspire.

Still may the Muse her choicest Gifts impart

And pour her sacred Raptures o’er thy Heart;

Still be it Thine with firmness to sustain

Each fierce Attack of Sickness, Grief, and Pain.

May Faith, may Hope still lend their cheering Ray

And point thy view to Realms of endless Day.

But Oh if Heaven permit! Would I implore

Health may again her genial Aid restore.

May happier Days yet bless my Lovely Friend

And peace and pleasure all Thy steps attend,

Smooth as Thy Numbers glide thy future Hours

Adorn’d by Fame with never fading flowers.

And whilst kind Heaven my Thread of Life prolongs

To Thee My Heart shall pour its grateful Songs,

Tho’ faint and languid flows the Nerveless Line,

To Love, Admire, and Imitate be mine.

Text: MS, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, STE 5/5/iii; also Attwater Papers, Angus Library, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, acc. 76, II.A.1.; see also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 3, pp. 77-79.