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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu


Addressed to ------, 1736


With toilsome steps I pass thro' life's dull road
(No pack-horse half so tired of his load);
And when this dirty journey will conclude,
To what new realms is then my way pursued?
Say, then does the unbodied spirit fly
To happier climes and to a better sky?
Or, sinking, mixes with its kindred clay,
And sleeps a whole eternity away?
Or shall this form be once again renew'd,
With all its frailties, all its hopes, endu'd;
Acting once more on this detested stage
Passions of youth, infirmities of age?
I see in Tully what the ancients thought,
And read unprejudic'd what moderns taught;
But no conviction from my reading springs --
Most dubious on the most important things.
Yet one short moment would at once explain
What all philosophy has sought in vain;
Would clear all doubt, and terminate all pain.
Why then not hasten that decisive hour;
Still in my view, and ever in my pow'r?
Why should I drag along this life I hate,
Without one thought to mitigate the weight?
Whence this mysterious bearing to exist,
When ev'ry joy is lost, and ev'ry hope dismiss'd?
In chains and darkness wherefore should I stay,
And mourn in prison whilst I keep the key?

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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