As it is the fashion to publish poems on domestic circumstances, I have obtained two written (it is said) by two bridegrooms. The first betrays the doubtful and metaphysical spirit of your melancholy friend Beauclerc; the other has the elegant case and vivacity of his fashionable rival. As Sir Pertinax Townly seldom claims more than a purchased right to poetry, I have published the sprightly trifle signed P. without enquiring to whom it really belongs; but shall only venture to send Mr B’s to your Chest as licence to print is refused by him to
Your Friend and Correspondent
I expect a third from Windermere
May 16th 1813
Spirit beyond the world’s control,
What art thou, Happiness! and where?
Thou, pure and viewless as the soul,
Canst only with the soul compare.
Thy shape, thy presence, and thy place
We doubt, yet thy existence feel;
Thought cannot fix nor Reason trace
The glances which thy throne reveal!
Thou are like Beauty, for no tongue
Thy mystic essence can explain;
Thou art like Time, for Time is dumb
And has no trace till trace is vain.
Like Beauty and like Time thou fliest
Thyself of Beauty’s train a part;
Yet not like Time; for tho’ thou diest,
Hope may recall thee to the heart.
He knows thee not who strives to tell
Thy secret feast to babbling Fame:
No eloquence with thee can dwell —
Scarce language yet affords thy name.
In one pure beam of seeming white
The rainbow’s richest hues we find;
And thou, the Soul’s unsullied light,
Art ev’ry ray from heav’n combin’d.
Spirit beyond the world’s control
Hear, if you canst, a mortal’s pray’r!
Be mute, be secret as his soul,
But keep thy holy mansion there!
If I swear by that eye you’ll allow
Its looks are so shifting and new
That the oath I may take on it now
The very next glance would undo.
The Cupids that sit there so sly
Such different arrows have got
That an oath on the glance of an eye
Like yours, may be off in a shot.
Should I swear by the dew on thy lip
Tho’ each moment the treasure renews,
If my constancy wishes to trip
I may sip off the oath when I choose!
Or a sigh may disperse from that flow’r
Both the dew and the oath that are there;
And I’d make a new vow ev’ry hour
To lose it so sweetly in air.
But clear up the heav’n of thy brow
Nor fancy my oath but a feather;
On my heart I will pledge thee my vow —
They both must be broken together!