Petrarch to Laura

"Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
"How often must it love, how often hate,
"How often hope, despair, resent, regret,
"Conceal, disdain, do all things, but forget."

- POPE.

YE silent haunts, ye dark embow'ring shades,
Lone shaggy wilds and melancholy glades;
Ye mountains black'ning o'er the thorny vale;
Ye lucid lakes that trembling meet the gale;
Ye gloomy avenues of dire despair,
Dear last asylums of long-cherish'd care;
Eternal solitudes ! where LOVE retires
To bathe his wounds, and quench his fatal fires;
Where frantic, lost, forlorn, and sad I go
A wand'ring pilgrim in a maze of woe;
Oh! to your deepest caverns let me fly,
Breathe a fond pray'r, and 'MIDST YOUR HORRORS DIE.

Ye sparry grots, ye once ador'd retreats,
Ye tinkling rills, ye consecrated seats,
Whose velvet sod embroider'd o'er with flow'rs,
On the charm'd sense celestial odour pours;
Ye roseate banks o'erhung with waving trees,
That moan responsive to the murm'ring breeze;
How cold, how desolate your shade appears,
A path of mis'ry thro' a vale of tears.
Now pale Despair hangs brooding o'er your bow'rs,
Absorbs your sweets, and withers all your flow'rs;
Strips the thick foliage from your verdant shades,
And spreads eternal darkness o'er your glades;
No more for ME your sunny banks shall pour
In purple tides ripe Autumn's luscious store;
No more for ME your lust'rous tints shall glow,
Your forests wave, your silv'ry channels flow;
Yet 'midst your heav'n my wounded breast shall crave
One narrow cell, my SOLACE and my GRAVE.

Subdu'd, o'erwhelm'd, a with'ring shade I stray,
Shrink from myself; and shudder at the day:
No more fond HOPE sustains my sick'ning soul,
Resistless passion spurns her meek controul;
Corroding anguish o'er each prospect low'rs,
Bends my weak frame, my lusty youth devours;
Clings to my breast where ev'ry fibre bleeds,
And on its vital throne insatiate feeds.
Where shall I fly ? what path untrod explore,
Where love can wound, and memory live no more;
Where, LAURA, shall I turn, what balsam find
To soothe the throbbings of my fev'rish mind ?
What blest relief can life's dull round impart,
What rapture vivify the hopeless heart;
What pitying star its beamy stream dispense,
To light my soul, and cheer my vagrant sense;
To gild the gloom of desolating woes,
And lead my wand'ring footsteps to repose?

When wild with passion, madd'ning with remorse,
From AVIGNON'S lov'd walls I bent my course;
While roll'd in crimson clouds the orb of day,
O'er seas of ether shed his parting ray;
As to his western goal he journey'd forth,
Leaving pale twilight weeping o'er the earth;
Oft did I pause, oft turn my longing eyes
To the tall spire that pierc'd the evening skies;
All was serene ! save when the curfew's sound
Struck on my pensive heart with knell profound;
While Fancy bade my frantic mind explore,
Those scenes of holy joy I taste no more;
Unsullied altars, consecrated shrines,
Where curling incense round each taper twines;
Where, thro' long aisles, seraphic PÆANS ring,
And meek-ey'd virgins choral anthems sing!
Where, like a being of celestial mould,
My LAURA'S beauteous form I dar'd behold * !
While at the shrine her orisons she pour'd,
Pure as the spirit of the saint ador'd !
Oft as the cross her snowy fingers press'd,
Her auburn tresses veil'd her spotless breast !
A shade transparent deck'd her brow divine,
And bade her eyes with temper'd lustre shine!
As low she bow'd before the throne of Grace,
A cherub's softness harmoniz'd her face;
A smile benign reveal'd her tranquil soul,
While from her lips devotion's fervour stole;
Each conscious rapture to her share was giv'n,
Her form was virtue, and her mind was heav'n.

Fix'd to the earth with trembling zeal I gaz'd.
Each passion waken'd, and each sense amaz'd !
Involuntary sighs, too soon confess'd
The struggling tumults lab'ring in my breast;
No thought sublime on my rapt feelings hung,
No sacred eloquence unchain'd my tongue;
ALL, ALL WAS LOVE ! while thro' my burning brain
Rush'd a fierce torrent of convulsive pain;
From my dim eyes celestial radiance stole,
While howling demons grasp'd my sinking soul,
Guilt's writhing scorpions twining round my heart,
Enflam'd each wound, and heighten'd every smart;
In vain I sought Religion's calm domain,
And at her footstool pour'd my hopeless pain;
The priestess frowning on my impious pray'r,
Check'd the bold
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"Petrarch to Laura" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 30 May 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/26762/petrarch-to-laura>.

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