To Myra, 1776

In vain my Myra’s animating Lays

Recall the pleasures which I once possest.

Oh! halcyon moments! Bright unclouded Days!

When Nature’s beauties fir’d my raptur’d Breast.

O’er those lov’d Scenes I seem again to stray

(Lov’d Scenes now shaded with eternal Gloom!)

Where oft we pass’d the sweetly vacant Day

When Life and Nature wore a mutual bloom.

O’er the dear past in vain fond fancy roves,

In vain the fading vision I deplore,

Not all Bradfordia’s thought inspiring Groves

The enthusiastic impulse can restore.

Yet fair as magic fancy ever form’d

Her varying Landscapes charm the raptured sight,

With all Luxuriant nature’s charms adorn’d

Wild as Imagination’s boldest flight.

Ah! whence this tasteless Apathy of Mind

This languor fatal to Life’s dearest Joys

Ev’n thought itself the frozen fetters bind

And all its active Energy destroys?

Age does not yet his torpid reign extend

Still Youth and Health their choicest Gifts impart,

Capricious fortune deigns her smiles to lend

And dearer friendship animates my heart.

Whence, but from Memory’s hand, proceeds this Gloom

That pleasures ever past pourtrays to view;

Her weeping Eye then fixing on the tomb

She paints each thought with languish ever new.

How vain the pleasures nature’s charms impart!

How vain the scenes which sprightly Youth allure!

Friendship alone can soothe the griefworn Heart

And kindly soften what it cannot cure.

Yes, friendship still its power to please retains,

Its sacred Ardors but with life decay,

The soothing sweetness of my Myra’s strains

Can steal the tear tho’ not awake the Lay.

Unquenched forever be the sacred fire,

Fade, fancy fade, fortune thy toys resume,

Let but benevolence my Soul inspire,

Let but fair friendship’s smiles my path illume.

’Tis thine to paint what I can only feel,

The painful pleasing passions thou canst trace;

While o’er the Soul thy soothing numbers steal,

Oh be it mine to emulate and praise.

Text: MS, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, STE 5/5/v; also 5/1; see also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 3, pp. 104-06.