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An Epistle to a Lady

Mary Leapor 1722 (Northamptonshire) – 1746 (Brackley)



In vain, dear Madam, yes in vain you strive;
Alas! to make your luckless Mira thrive,
For Tycho and Copernicus agree,
No golden Planet bent its Rays on me.

'Tis twenty Winters, if it is no more;
To speak the Truth it may be Twenty four.
As many Springs their 'pointed Space have run,
Since Mira's Eyes first open'd on the Sun.
'Twas when the Flocks on slabby Hillocks lie,
And the cold Fishes rule the wat'ry Sky:
But tho these Eyes the learned Page explore,
And turn the pond'rous Volumes o'er and o'er,
I find no Comfort from their Systems flow,
But am dejected more as more I know.
Hope shines a while, but like a Vapour flies,
(The Fate of all the Curious and the Wise)
For, Ah! cold Saturn triumph'd on that Day,
And frowning Sol deny'd his golden Ray.

You see I'm learned, and I shew't the more,
That none may wonder when they find me poor.
Yet Mira dreams, as slumbring Poets may,
And rolls in Treasures till the breaking Day:
While Books and Pictures in bright Order rise,
And painted Parlours swim before her Eyes:
Till the shrill Clock impertinently rings,
And the soft Visions move their shining Wings:
Then Mira wakes,-- her Pictures are no more,
And through her Fingers slides the vanish'd Ore.
Convinc'd too soon, her Eye unwilling falls
On the blue Curtains and the dusty Walls:
She wakes, alas! to Business and to Woes,
To sweep her Kitchen, and to mend her Clothes.

But see pale Sickness with her languid Eyes,
At whose Appearance all Delusion flies:
The World recedes, its Vanities decline,
Clorinda's Features seem as faint as mine!
Gay Robes no more the aching Sight admires,
Wit grates the Ear, and melting Music tires:
Its wonted pleasures with each sense decay,
Books please no more, and paintings fade away,
The sliding Joys in misty Vapours end:
Yet let me still, Ah! let me grasp a Friend:
And when each Joy, when each lov'd Object flies,
Be you the last that leaves my closing Eyes.

But how will this dismantl'd Soul appear,
When stripp'd of all it lately held so dear,
Forc'd from its Prison of expiring Clay,
Afraid and shiv'ring at the doubtful Way.

Yet did these Eyes a dying Parent see,
Loos'd from all Cares except a Thought for me,
Without a Tear resign her short'ning Breath,
And dauntless meet the ling'ring Stroke of Death.
Then at th' Almighty's Sentence shall I mourn:
"Of Dust thou art, to Dust shalt thou return."
Or shall I wish to stretch the Line of Fate,
That the dull Years may bear a longer Date,
To share the Follies of succeeding Times
With more Vexations and with deeper Crimes:
Ah no -- tho' Heav'n brings near the final Day,
For such a Life I will not, dare not pray;
But let the Tear for future Mercy flow,
And fall resign'd beneath the mighty Blow.
Nor I alone -- for through the spacious Ball,
With me will Numbers of all Ages fall:
And the same Day that Mira yields her Breath,
Thousands may enter through the Gates of Death.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:46 min read
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Mary Leapor

Mary Leapor was an English poet, born in Marston St. Lawrence, Northamptonshire, the only child of Anne Sharman and Philip Leapor, a gardener. She is notable for being one of the most critically well-received of the numerous labouring-class writers of the period. more…

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