To Stella by Hester Mulso Chapone

No more, my Stella, to the sighing shades,
Of blasted hope and luckless love complain;
But join the sports of Dian’s careless maids,
And laughing Liberty’s triumphant train.

And see, with these is holy Friendship found,
With chrystal bosom open to the sight;
Her gentle hand shall close the recent wound,
And fill the vacant heart with calm delight.

Nor Prudence slow, that ever comes too late,
Nor stern-brow’d Duty, check her gen’rous flame;
On all her footsteps Peace and Honour wait,
And Slander’s ready tongue reveres her name.

Say, Stella, what is Love, whose tyrant pow’r
Robs Virtue of content and Youth of joy?
What nymph or goddess, in a fatal hour,
Gave to the world this mischief-making boy?

By lying bards in forms so various shewn,
Deck’d with false charms or arm’d with terrors vain,
Who shall his real properties make known,
Declare his nature, and his birth explain?

Some say, of Idlness and Pleasure bred,
The smiling babe on beds of roses lay,
There, with sweet honey-dews by Fancy fed,
His blooming beauties open’d to the day.

His wanton head with fading chaplets bound,
Dancing, he leads his silly vot’ries on
To precipices deep o’er faithless ground,
Then laughing flies, nor hears their fruitless moan.

Some say from Etna’s burning entrails torn,
More fierce than tygers on the Libyan plain,
Begot in tempests, and in thunders born,
Love wildly rages like the foaming main.

With darts and flames some arm his feeble hands,
His infant brow with regal honours crown;
Whilst vanquish’d Reason, bound with silken bands,
Meanly submissive, falls before his throne.

Each fabling poet sure alike mistakes
The gentle pow’r that reigns o’er tender hearts!
Soft Love no tempest hurls, nor thunder shakes,
Nor lifts the flaming torch, nor poison’d darts.

Heav’n-born, the brightest seraph of the sky,
For Eden’s bow’r he left his blissful seat,
When Adam’s blameless suit was heard on high,
And beauteous Eve first chear’d his lone retreat.

At Love’s approach all earth rejoic’d, each hill,
Each grove that learnt it from the whisp’ring gale;
Joyous the birds their liveliest chorus fill,
And richer fragrance breathes in ev’ry vale.

Well pleased in Paradise awhile he roves,
With Innocence and Friendship, hand in hand;
Till Sin found entrance in the with’ring groves,
And frighted Innocence forsook the land.

But Love, still faithful to the guilty pair,
With them was driv’n amidst a world of woes,
Where oft he mourns his lost companion dear,
And trembling flies before his rigid foes.

Honour, in burnish’d steel completely clad,
And hoary Wisdom, oft against him arm;
Suspicion pale, and Disappointment sad,
Vain Hopes and frantic Fears his heart alarm.

Fly then, dear Stella, fly th’ unequal strife,
Since Fate forbids that Peace should dwell with Love!
Friendship’s calm joys shall glad thy future life,
And Virtue lead to endless bliss above.

From: Chapone, Mrs., Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, The Third Edition, To which is now first added, A Letter to a new-married Lady, 1777, E. and C. Dilly and J. Walter: London, pp. 146-149.
(http://books.google.com.au/books?id=MBAlAAAAMAAJ)

Date: 1775

By: Hester Mulso Chapone (1727-1801)

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