Elegy III. Book I.

She look’d as Ariadne, when she lay1
Beside the waves that traitor Theseus bore2
Far from her straining eyes and voice away,3
Lost in a trance of grief, upon the shore ;4
Or like Andromeda, when soft she slept,5
In safety, from the fatal rock unbound ;—6
Or like the wearied nymph, who light hath stept, 7
The livelong day, first in the festive round.8
And bending o’er my Cynthia’s slumbers calm,9
Late from the joyous throng, and flush’d with wine,—10
I felt her breathe around a heavy’nly balm,11
And borrow’d fragrance from her lips, for mine12
One hand beneath her quiet head was plac’d,13
The other seem’d to shade her sleeping eyes,—14
And kneeling by the couch, in silent haste,15
Near and more near, I drank those fragrant sighs ;16
And then my flame those gentle breezes fann’d17
So high, and such deep draughts of bliss I drew,18
That fain I would have mov’d that guardian hand,19
To kiss the lips from whence they issued, too.20
But Love upon mine arm his finger laid,21
And fear forbade the daring wish to rise22
So, Argus-like, I gaz’d upon the maid,23
Till all my soul was living in mine eyes.24
And sportively the Chaplets from my head25
I took, that still were twin’d, forgotten, there,—26
Roses to Roses,” inwardly I said,27
And hung them by her cheek, and in her hair.28
My lilies her soft-heaving bosom grace,29
I see their snowy leaves—less white—expand ;30
I wreathe her slender arm, and flow’rets place,31
Idly, in her unconscious sleeping hand :—32
And if, perchance, a deeper sigh she draws,33
I stop and gaze on her more fixedly,34
And read her face, and image forth the cause35
Oh ! can she dream—and dream of aught but me ?36
When lo ! th’ admiring moon, with amorous rays,37
In sudden splendour thro’ the casement breaks,38
They kiss the lids where I dare hardly gaze,39
She opes her eyes, and murmurs as she wakes40
Ah ! Ingrate art thou here? False one—but how41
With riot flush’d, thy shameless orgies o’er ;—42
Nay, and methinks I scarce should see thee now43
Wast thou not exil’d from another door.44
Let her, at least, enjoy oblivious rest,45
Who but to grief and vain regret must wake ;46
Cruel—wouldst thou forsake me quite, ’twere best,47
And scorn the heart thou only wait’st to break.48
Long had the kindly, hovering sleep prepar’d49
To lend my cares the cordial they require,50
But with the teazing spindles’ noise I scared,51
Or charm’d him from his purpose with the lyre.52
And still I watch’d, and wept, and thought of thee,53
And still upon my couch he would attend,54
Till in his gentle arms he folded me,55
As if aware he was my only friend.”56