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An Imitation of the Eleventh Ode of the Firft
Book of HORACE.
, a Into truths which are better conceald to enquire; Perhaps many years are allow'd us by Fate, Or next winter perhaps is the last of their date : Let the credulous fools whom astrologers cheat, Exult or despond, as they vary deceit ; Who anticipate care, their own pleasure destroy,' And invite disappointment who build upon joy; All ills unforeseen we the easiest endure, What avails to foresee, unless foresight could cure ? And from ills by their art how can wretches be freed, When that art must be false, or those ills be decreed? From reflection and hope little comfort we find, To poffeffion alone let thy thoughts be confin'd; To-day's all the treasure
mortals can boast, For to-morrow's not gained, and yesterday's lost;
Even now whilft I write, time steals on our youth,
And a moment's cut off from thy friendship and truth.
Then seize the swift blessing, enjoy the dear now,
And take, not expect, what hereafter 'll bestow.
HAT shall I say to fix thy way’ring mind, W
To chase thy doubts, and force thee to be kind? What weight of argument can turn the scale, If intercession from a lover fail? By what shall I conjure thee to obey This tender summons, nor prolong thy stay? If unabated in this constant breast That paffion burns which once thy vows profess’d; If absence has not chill’d the languid flame, Its ardour and its purity the same ; Indulge those transports, and no more controul The dictates of thy fond consenting foul ; By no vain fcruple be thy purpose sway’d, And only Love implicitly obey'd:
Let inclination this debate decide,
Nor be thy prudence, but thy heart thy guide:
But real prudence never can oppose
What Love suggests, and Gratitude avows :
The warm dear raptures which thy bosom move,
'Tis virtue to indulge, and wisdom to improve:
For think how few the joys allow'd by Fate,
How mix'd the cup, how short their longest date !
How onward still the stream of pleasure flows !
That no reflux the rapid current knows !
Not ev'n thy charms can bribe the ruthless hand
Of rigid Time, to stay his ebbing fand;
Fair as thou art, that beauty must decay;
The night of age fucceeds the brightest day:
That cheek where Nature's sweetest garden blows,
Her whitest lily, and her warmest rofe ;
Those eyes, those meaning minifters of Love,
Who, what thy lips can only utter, prove;
These must resign their lustre, those their bloom,
And find with meaner charms one common doom :
Pass but a few short years, this change must be;
Nor one less dreadful shalt thou mourn in me :
For though no chance can alienate my flame,
While thine to feed the lamp, shall burn the same,
Yet shall the stream of years abate that fire,
And cold esteem fucceed to warm defire :
Then on thy breast enraptur'd shall I dwell,
Nor feel a joy beyond what I can tell.
Or say, should sickness antedate that woe,
And intercept what Time would else allow;
If pain should pall my taste to all thy charms,
Or Death himself should tear me from thy arms;
How would'st thou then regret with fruitless truth,
The precious squander'd hours of health and youth?
Come then, my love, nor trust the future day,
Live whilst we can, be happy whilst we may:
For what is life unless its joys we prove?
And what is happiness but mutual love?
Our time is wealth no frugal hand can store,
All our possession is the present hour,
And he who spares to use it, ever poor.
The golden now is all that we can boast;
And that (like snow) at once is grasp'd and lost.
Hafte, wing thy passage then, no more delay,
But to these eyes their sole delight convey.
Not thus I languish'd for thy virgin charms,
When first surrender'd to these eager arms,
When first admitted to that heav'n, thy breast,
To mine I strain'd that charming foe to rest;
How leaps my conscious heart, whilst I retrace
The dear idea of that strict embrace?
When on thy bosom quite entranc'd I lay,
And lov'd unsated the short night away ;
Whilst half reluctant you, and half resign’d,
Amidst fears, wishes, pain and pleasure join'd,
Now holding off, now growing to my breast,
By turns reprov'd me, and by turns caress’d.
Oh! how remembrance throbs in
vein! I pant,
I ficken for that scene again;
My senses ach, I can no word command,
And the pen totters in my trembling hand.
Farewel, thou only joy on earth I know,
And all that man can taste of heav'n below.