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.