John William Polidori - To Mrs.....

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To Mrs......

Presenting her a copy of my "Essay on Pleasure." 1818.


When first I came midst mortals here,
I heard men speak of pleasant dame
Whom oft they sought—but ne'er could hear
More than a voice, which distant came,
Inviting man and woman too
To chase an image of their mind.
As boy, who seems with looks to woo
The bubbles wafted on the wind—
And though his limbs are wearied out
Still chases them with anxious throb,
Till echoing comes th' exultant shout—
But lo! the winds his fancies rob,
Or else the mocking bubble grasp'd
But leaves poor froth within the hand,
He round it hurrying closely clasp'd—
While he faint falls upon the strand—
Or like the fire-fly flitting flame
Lighting all the plants around,
Lures the tir'd traveller, who, lame
With the long weary miles (that wound
Amidst the tangled forest's gloom,
Or changeless desert's wide expanse
Of wand'ring myriads oft the tomb
Prostrate by winds or Arabs' lance)
Still leaves the beaten track in chase
Of this light fairy elfish thing,
Thinking with it his child to grace
If he it to his home can bring—
But when with weary steps he's gone,
Through brake and bush or burning sand
The sun throws from his Eastern throne
Charm breaking light upon the land,
And leaves what lured him so to roam. 
The filthy insect in his sight,
While he falls down thinking of home 
Exhausted to eternal night.—
Thus once I ran in search of things 
But bubbles of the wanton dame,
Or chas'd such phantoms as had wings
To fly from my too hasty aim—
'Till I at last thought pleasure dwelt
In wildest fancies of the brain,
And thought I inspiration felt
To preach it to the lounging train—
But since with thee I've sat whole days
And seen thy husband by thee stand,
And children playing in strange ways,
A little merry careless band—
And heard thy loving playful mirth,
First cheer thy husband's toil-worn brow,
Then sooth thy Emma, the last birth
On which thy fond affections grow.—
And since I've heard —'s wiser head
Reason on what he feels so well,
I almost wish like him to tread
The path where such rich pleasures dwell.—
And if I thought like thee to find
 A wife affectionate and mild,
To all my wayward humours blind— 
Who'd sooth my soul as thou thy child—
I'd seek where'er fond hope might lead — 
Whatever dangers hovered round,
As long as aught my hope should feed
I'd never rest—'till she were found. —
But if when gained she show'd a mask,
Had hid a mind as wild as mine,
Oh then to tell sad were the task,
How I should grieve, how I should pine.
For I am not like; my heart,
My mind by aught but reason led,
Would often feel, would often smart
With bickerings of two wh're wed,
Without perchance a feeling left
That echoing beats in either's breast, —
And then, when thus of hope bereft,
Oh where, where then to seek for rest.—
'Tis better far as now to live,
And even hope for what may ne'er
Perchance be mine, than rashly give
The only stay that keeps me here. —

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