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Euphelia, An Elegy.

As roam'd a pilgrim o'er the mountain drear,
On whose lone verge the foaming billows roar;
The wail of hopeless sorrow pierc'd his ear,
And swell'd at distance on the sounding shore.
 
The mourner breath'd her deep complaint to night,
Her moan she mingled with the rapid blast;
That bar'd her bosom in its wasting flight,
And o'er the earth her scatter'd tresses cast!
 
"Ye winds, she cried, still heave the lab'ring deep,
"The mountain shake, the howling forest rend;
"Still dash the shiv'ring fragment from the steep,
"Nor for a wretch like me the storm suspend.
 
"Ah, wherefore wish the rising storm to spare?
"Ah, why implore the raging winds to save?
"What refuge can the breast where lives despair
"Desire but death? what shelter but the grave?
 
"To me congenial is the gloom of night,
"The savage howlings that infest the air;
"I unappall'd can view the fatal light,
"That flashes from the pointed lightning's glare.
 
"And yet erewhile, if night her shadows threw
"O'er the known woodlands of my native vale;
"Fancy in visions wild the landscape drew,
"And swelled with boding sounds the whisp'ring gale.
 
"But deep despair has arm'd my timid soul,
"And agony has numb'd the throb of fear;
"Taught a weak heart its terrors to controul,
"And more to court than shun the danger near.
 
"Yet could I welcome the return of light,
"Its glim'ring beam might guide my searching eye,
"The sacred spot might then emerge from night,
"On which a lover's bleeding relicks lie!
 
"For sure 'twas here, as late a shepherd stray'd
"Bewilder'd, o'er the mountain's dreary bound,
"Close to the pointed cliff he saw him laid,
"Where heav'd the waters of the deep around.
 
"Alas, no longer could his heart endure
"The woes that heart was doom'd for me to prove:
"He sought for death - for death the only cure,
"That fate can give to vain, and hopeless love."
 
"My sire, unjust, while passion swell'd his breast,
"From the lov'd Alfred his Euphelia tore;
"Mock'd the keen sorrows that my soul opprest,
"And bade me, vainly bade me love no more!
 
"He told me love, was like yon' troubled deep,
"Whose restless billows never know repose;
"Are wildly dash'd upon the rocky steep,
"And tremble to the lightest breeze that blows!
 
"From these rude storms remote, her gentle balm,
"Dear to the suff'ring spirit, peace applies" -
Peace! 'tis th' oblivious lake's detested calm
Whose dull, slow waters never fall or rise.
 
"Ah, what avails a parent's stern command,
"The force of conq'ring passion to subdue?
"And wherefore seek to rend, with cruel hand,
"The ties enchanted love so fondly drew!
 
"Yet I could see my Alfred's fix'd despair,
"And aw'd by filial fear conceal my woes;
"My coward heart cou'd separation bear,
"And check the struggling anguish as it rose!
 
"'Twas guilt the barb'rous mandate to obey,
"Which bade no parting sigh my bosom move,
"Victim of duty's unrelenting sway,
"I seemed a traitor, while a slave to love!"
 
"Let her, who seal'd a lover's fate, endure
"The sharpest pressure of deserv'd distress;
"'Twere added perfidy to seek a cure,
"And stain'd with falsehood, wish to suffer less.
 
"For wretches doom'd in other griefs to pine,
"Oft' will benignant hope her ray impart;
"And pity oft' from her celestial shrine,
"Drop a warm tear upon the fainting heart.
 
"But o'er the lasting gloom of love's despair,
"Can hope's bright ray its cheering visions shed?
"Can pity sooth the woes that breast must bear,
"Which vainly loves, and vainly mourns the dead!"
 
"No! ling'ring still, and still prolong'd, the moan
"Shall never pause, till heaves my latest breath,
"Till memory's distracting pang is flown,
"And all my sorrows shall be hush'd in death.
 
"And death is pitying come, whose hand shall tear
"From this afflicted heart the sense of pain;
"My fainting limbs refuse their load to bear,
"And life no longer will my form sustain.
 
"Yet once did health's enliv'ning glow adorn,
"And pleasure shed for me her loveliest ray,
"Pure as the gentle star that gilds the morn,
"And constant as the equal light of day!"
 
"Now those lost pleasures trac'd by memory, seem
"Like yon' illusive meteor's glancing light;
"That o'er the darkness threw its instant gleam,
"Then sunk, and vanish'd in the depth of night.
 
"My native vale! and thou delightful bower!
"Scenes to my hopeless love for ever dear;
"Sweet vale, for whom the morning wak'd her flow'r,
"Gay bower, for whom the evening pour'd her tear.
 
"I ask no more to see your beauties rise -
"Ye rocks and mountains, on whose rugged breast
"My Alfred, murder'd by Euphelia, lies,
"In your deep solitudes oh let me rest!"
 
"And sure the dawning ray that lights the steep,
"And slowly wanders o'er the purple wave;
"Will shew me where his sacred relics sleep,
"Will lead his mourner to her destin'd grave. -
 
O'er the high precipice unmov'd she bent,
A fearful path the beams of morning shew,
The pilgrim reach'd with toil the rude ascent,
And saw her brooding o'er the deep below.
 
"Euphelia stay! he cried, thy Alfred calls -
"Oh stay, my love! in sorrow yet more dear,
"I come!" - In vain the soothing accent falls,
Alas, it reach'd not her distracted ear.
 
"Ah, what avails, she said, that morning rose?
"With fruitless pain I seek his mould'ring clay;
"Vain search! to fill the measure of my woes,
"The foaming surge has wash'd his corse away.
 
"This cruel agony why longer bear?
"Death, death alone can all my pangs remove;
"Kind death will banish from my heart despair,
"And when I live again - I live to love!" -
 
She said, and plung'd into the awful deep -
He saw her meet the fury of the wave;
He frantic saw! and darting to the steep
With desp'rate anguish, sought her wat'ry grave.
 
He clasp'd her dying form, he shar'd her sighs,
He check'd the billow rushing on her breast;
She felt his dear embrace - her closing eyes
Were fix'd on Alfred, and her death was blest. -
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

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Helen Maria Williams

Helen Maria Williams was a British novelist poet and translator of French-language works A religious dissenter she was a supporter of abolitionism and of the ideals of the French Revolution she was imprisoned in Paris during the Reign of Terror but nonetheless spent much of the rest of her life in France A controversial figure in her own time the young Williams was favorably portrayed in a 1787 poem by William Wordsworth but she was portrayed by other writers as irresponsibly politically radical and even as sexually wanton more…

All Helen Maria Williams poems | Helen Maria Williams Books

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