An Epistle to a Lady

Original Text: 
Mrs. Leapor of Brackley in Northamptonshire, Poems upon Several Occasions (London: J. Roberts, 1748), pp. 38-41. B-11 5553 Fisher Library.
1In vain, dear Madam, yes in vain you strive;
2Alas! to make your luckless Mira thrive,
4No golden Planet bent its Rays on me.
5  'Tis twenty Winters, if it is no more;
6To speak the Truth it may be Twenty four.
7As many Springs their 'pointed Space have run,
8Since Mira's Eyes first open'd on the Sun.
9'Twas when the Flocks on slabby Hillocks lie,
10And the cold Fishes rule the wat'ry Sky:
11But tho these Eyes the learned Page explore,
12And turn the pond'rous Volumes o'er and o'er,
13I find no Comfort from their Systems flow,
14But am dejected more as more I know.
15Hope shines a while, but like a Vapour flies,
16(The Fate of all the Curious and the Wise)
17For, Ah! cold Saturn triumph'd on that Day,
18And frowning Sol deny'd his golden Ray.
19  You see I'm learned, and I shew't the more,
20That none may wonder when they find me poor.
21Yet Mira dreams, as slumbring Poets may,
22And rolls in Treasures till the breaking Day:
23While Books and Pictures in bright Order rise,
24And painted Parlours swim before her Eyes:
25Till the shrill Clock impertinently rings,
26And the soft Visions move their shining Wings:
27Then Mira wakes,-- her Pictures are no more,
28And through her Fingers slides the vanish'd Ore.
29Convinc'd too soon, her Eye unwilling falls
30On the blue Curtains and the dusty Walls:
31She wakes, alas! to Business and to Woes,
32To sweep her Kitchen, and to mend her Clothes.
33  But see pale Sickness with her languid Eyes,
34At whose Appearance all Delusion flies:
35The World recedes, its Vanities decline,
36Clorinda's Features seem as faint as mine!
37Gay Robes no more the aching Sight admires,
38Wit grates the Ear, and melting Music tires:
39Its wonted pleasures with each sense decay,
40Books please no more, and paintings fade away,
41The sliding Joys in misty Vapours end:
42Yet let me still, Ah! let me grasp a Friend:
43And when each Joy, when each lov'd Object flies,
44Be you the last that leaves my closing Eyes.
45  But how will this dismantl'd Soul appear,
46When stripp'd of all it lately held so dear,
47Forc'd from its Prison of expiring Clay,
48Afraid and shiv'ring at the doubtful Way.
49  Yet did these Eyes a dying Parent see,
50Loos'd from all Cares except a Thought for me,
51Without a Tear resign her short'ning Breath,
52And dauntless meet the ling'ring Stroke of Death.
53Then at th' Almighty's Sentence shall I mourn:
54"Of Dust thou art, to Dust shalt thou return."
55Or shall I wish to stretch the Line of Fate,
56That the dull Years may bear a longer Date,
57To share the Follies of succeeding Times
58With more Vexations and with deeper Crimes:
59Ah no -- tho' Heav'n brings near the final Day,
60For such a Life I will not, dare not pray;
61But let the Tear for future Mercy flow,
62And fall resign'd beneath the mighty Blow.
63Nor I alone -- for through the spacious Ball,
64With me will Numbers of all Ages fall:
65And the same Day that Mira yields her Breath,
66Thousands may enter through the Gates of Death.

Notes

3] Tycho: Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), astronomer.
Copernicus: Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), astronomer. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1748
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Form: