Mary Barber

(1690-1757 / England)

A Letter Sent To Mrs. Barber


Thou glorious Ruler of the beauteous Day!
Have sev'nteen Years so swiftly roll'd away?
Hast thou so oft the heav'nly Circle run,
When scarce I thought thy radiant Course begun?
Never shall I my fleeting Time renew?
Must it all perish in one transient View?
I wish--Alas! my Wishes are in vain:
Those flying Years they never can regain:
With rapid Haste Old Time the Moments drives;
And scarce a Trace of Youth in Age survives:
So, when the weary'd Mortal sinks to Rest,
And ev'ry Tumult ceases in his Breast;
Imagin'd Scenes, and wish'd--for Views arise;
Anew Creation feeds his wond'ring Eyeo;
Till Phoebus, rising o'er the spangled Plain,
Recalls him from the bright, delusive Scene;
With Grief he then perceives th' enchanting Sight,
The fleeting Creature of oblivious Night.

When some fine Voice delights the raptur'd Heart,
By Nature pleasing, yet improv'd by Art;
Tho' trembling each Seraphic Sound decay,
And with melodious Cadence melt away;
The faithful Echo still revives the Strain,
And sweetly charms the list'ning Ear again:
But Life, once vanish'd, will return no more;
No mimic Thought its Presence can restore.

Say then, my Soul, how must I now survey
So many Years, so quickly snatch'd away?
Awake, my Muse! Thou only canst impart
Ease to my Griefs, and heal the wounded Heart:
What Theme shall now employ my youthful Lays?
Say! Next to Heav'n, what Subject claims my Praise?
O impious Question! Dare I ask the Theme,
When a lov'd Parent does that Duty claim?
The Infant Tree, that, with judicious Care,
Some Hand defended from the piercing Air,
With cooling Streams reliev'd the burning Root,
Or lopp'd, with tender Skill, each sickly Shoot,
Soon as it learns the Tempest to despise,
And with diffusive Branches hide the Skies,
Gladly rewards the weary'd Peasant's Pains,
And loads the Parent Hand with annual Gains.

Haste then, my Muse; Sapphira is the Theme;
O strive, tho' vainly, to enhance her Fame:
Her Guardian Care did all my Griefs assuage,
Those sure Attendants of an Infant Age!
By her conducted to the Light of Truth,
I sail, unshipwreck'd, thro' the Storm of Youth:
The heav'nly Influence of her sage Advice
Points from afar the dang'rous Rocks of Vice;
Shews, with discerning Eye, the blissful Plains,
Where Peace, eternal, with fair Virtue reigns.

O Thou, whom ev'ry Grace and Worth attends,
Thou best of Mothers, and thou best of Friends,
Indulgently accept these filial Lays;
Accept thy Son's inartificial Praise:
May Heav'n restore thee to these Eyes again,
And safely waft thee o'er th' Iernian Main:
O quickly to my longing Eyes repair,
And ever bless me with thy Guardian Cate!

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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