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To a Friend in Love

By Gambold.99See Works, p. 258.

Accept, dear youth, a sympathizing lay,1010RS. Original has no verse numbering.

The only tribute pitying love can pay.

Though vain the hope thine anguish to assuage,

Charm down desire, or calm fierce passion’s rage:

Yet still permit me in thy griefs to grieve,

Relief to offer, if I can’t relieve;

Near thy sick couch with fond concern to attend,

And reach out cordials to my dying friend.

Poor hapless youth! what words can ease thy pain,

When reason pleads, and wisdom cries in vain!

Can feeble verse impetuous nature guide,

Or stem the force of blind affection’s tide?

If reason checks, or duty disallows,

“Reason,” you cry, “and duty are my foes:

Religion’s dictates ineffectual prove,

And God Himself’s impertinence in love.”

What art thou, Love? thou strange mysterious ill,

Whom none aright can know, though all can feel.

From careless sloth thy dull existence flows,

And feeds the fountain whence itself arose:

Silent its waves with baleful influence roll,

Damp the young mind, and sink the aspiring soul,

Poison its virtues, all its powers restrain,

And blast the promise of the future man.

To thee, curst fiend, the captive wretch consign’d,

“His passions rampant, and his reason blind,”

Reason, Heaven’s great vicegerent, dares disown,

And place a foolish idol in its throne;

Or wildly raise his frantic raptures higher,

And pour out blasphemies at thy desire.

At thy desire he bids a creature shine,

He decks a worm with attributes Divine;

Hers to angelic beauties dares prefer,

“Angels are painted fair to look like her!”

Before her shrine the lowly suppliant laid,

Adores the idol that himself has made:

From her almighty breath his doom receives,

Dies by her frown, as by her smile he lives.

Supreme she reigns in all-sufficient state,

To her he bows, from her expects his fate,

“Heaven in her love, damnation in her hate.”

He rears unhallow’d altars to her name,

Where lust lights up a black polluted flame;

Where sighs impure, as impious incense rise,

Himself the priest, his heart the sacrifice:

And thus God’s sacred word his horrid prayer supplies.

“Centre of all perfection, source of bliss,

In whom thy creature lives and moves and is,

Save, or I perish! hear my humble prayer;

Spare thy poor servant:—O, in mercy spare!

Thou art my joy, on thee depends my trust;

Hide not thy face, nor frown me into dust.

Send forth thy breath, and, raised again, I see

My joy, my life, my final bliss in thee.

For thee I am; for thee I all resign;

Be thou my one thing needful, ever mine!”

But O, forbear, presumptuous Muse, forbear,

Nor wound with rant profane the Christian ear:

A just abhorrence in my friend I see,

He starts from love, when love’s idolatry.

“Give Me thy heart,” if the Creator cries,

“’Tis given the creature,” what bold wretch replies?

Not so my friend: he wakes, he breathes again,

And “reason takes once more the slacken’d rein.”

In vain rebellious nature claims a part;

When Heaven requires, he gives up all his heart:

(“For Love Divine no partnership allows,

And Heaven averse rejects divided vows:”)

Fixt though she be, he rends the idol thence,

Nor lets her power exceed Omnipotence.

Commands his God, “Cut off the offending hand?”

He hears, obedient to his God’s command.

“’Pluck out thine eye,” let the Redeemer say;

He tears, and casts the bleeding orb away.

Victorious now to nobler joys aspires,

His bosom touch’d with more than earthly fires;

He leaves rough passion for calm virtue’s road,

Gives earth for heaven, and quits a worm for God.

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