Richard Savage (1697 - 1743 / England)
Nature in Perfection
Mater ait, tacta est dea Nomine Matris.
--- Utinam modo dicere Possem
Carmina digna dea, certe est dea carmine digna.
Let hireling Poets ply their venal Lays,
The Great, the Pow'rful, and the Rich, to praise;
Let Male-contents with Satire tickled be,
And Love-sick Coxcombs sink in Simile:
A diff'rent Theme my Verses shall employ,
A Mother's Anguish and a Mother's Joy.
And thou, O Bret! the softest of thy Kind,
Accept this Picture of a Parent's Mind;
If ever am'rous Plaint your Ear could please,
Or Love, or Pity, on your Bosom seize,
With fav'ring Smiles a well-meant Song regard,
And, Oh, forgive an unexperienc'd Bard,
If faintly he describe the Bliss, or Woe,
Which only you, who feel it, truly know.
From that sad Hour, when your unhappy Son
Struck thro the Life that forfeited his own,
What Doubts, what Fears, your anxious Soul posses'd,
And tore the soft Asylum of your Breast?
Oh, where for Shelter shall the Afflicted fly?
Or where expect a sweeter-Sanctuary?
Accus'd, forlorn, the much-lov'd Youth behold,
Depriv'd of Freedom, destitute of Gold;
Gold, that, from Dungeons, Criminals can free,
And ev'n in Newgate offers Liberty:
Prophets of Fate, where rav'nous Vulturs ply'd,
Cruel as Death, as Death unsatisfied;
Where Felons, Murd'rers, Traytors are secur'd,
And, if not guiltless, uncondemn'd immur'd;
Where thick built Walls th'imprison'd Wretch deprive
Almost of vital Air, while yet alive;
A Place, which scarce the Grave to which it leads,
In Damps, in Darkness, or in Stench exceeds.
How did your Kindness ease this Lot severe,
Your Fondness tend him, and your Bounty chear?
No Glympse of Joy your Pleasures then convey'd,
Nor Midnight Ball, nor Morning Masquerade.
In vain to crouded Drawing Rooms you run:
The Court a Desart seems without your Son.
If sportive Youth with sparkling Vigour come,
You see with secret Pain their opening Bloom.
Why was my Son (thus to yourself you say)
As young, and not so fortunate as they?
Nor sight of Age your Passion can endure:
-And must my Son then leave me immature?
Still others' Joys you view'd, and tasted none,
Still others' Griefs were lighter than your own;
And still whate'er you hear, whate'er you see,
Is cause for Plaint, and Food for Misery.
Your soft Distress, your Tenderness of Pain,
Can never be describ'd, or felt by Man;
Your Anna dear, taught by your matchless Mind,
Copies that glorious Frailty of her kind;
The Sister's Love, in Time of Danger shown,
Can only be transcended by your own.
In his Defence mov'd your persuasive Tongue,
Excus'd the Rash, and pleaded for the Young.
You, Heav'n, and Earth sollicite on his Side,
No Friend unspoke to, and no Art untried.
Your Art, your Importunity is weak,
You move resistless, if the Mother speak.
How vainly I recall my num'rous Fears,
The Pains he cost me in his Infant Years!
Was it for this I bore him on my Knees?
Was all my Foresight, were my Throes for this?
Each pleasing Hope, that with his Life began,
All dash'd, preserv'd the Boy, but lost the Man.
Strike me, and spare my Child! Oh, let me save
The Life by Friendship, I by Nature gave!
So Birds, by Instinct taught, supply with Food,
And chear, with genial Warmth, their callow Brood,
And oft their kind, maternal Breasts expose,
To guard their helpless Young from threat'ning Foes,
Fearless, and fierce, unequal Fight maintain,
And dye themselves, e'er see their Offspring slain.
The Doom once past o'er his devoted Head,
The Sword hangs, threat'ning, by a single Thread.
While, bent with Chains, the Weight he scarcely bore,
Which gall'd the Wearer much, the Mother more,
Who can the Tortures of your Soul declare,
Your Noon-tide Labours, and your Mid-night Prayer?
Let meaner Friends to view the Pris'ner go,
Whose slighter Love can bear that Sight of Woe;
A Sight too shocking for a Mother's Eye,
Which yet your utmost Caution cannot flye:
Still to your Mind the darling Youth appears,
And racks your Bosom with tormenting Fears!
Present, where-e'er you move, the Phantom seems,
And haunts, with ghastly Shapes, your Morning Dreams!
The Scene of Justice, to your sleeping Eyes,
Stands terribly display'd-and now he dies!
Thick to your Heart the vital Currents run,
You start, and waking cry-My Son! My Son!
Let none object you no Concern reveal'd,
Fire oft glows fiercest, that is most conceal'd:
Great Griefs are speechless, petty Sorrow speaks,
The Heart, which vents its Anguish never breaks;
Your Woes the old poetic Tales revive,
And Credit to their wildest Fables give.
So Niobe, when, in her Presence fell
The boasted Offspring she had lov'd too well,
Thro Horror stiff, beheld, with stupid Eye,
The last fair Rival of th'Immortals die;
While mightier Grief, than e'er by Words was shown,
Transform'd the silent Mourner to a Stone.
By Nature touch'd, his Pardon all desire,
And imitate the Virtue they admire,
Unite, his dire Misfortune to bemoan,
And join in Crowds to supplicate the Throne;
Who-e'er the Mother view'd, her Offspring lov'd,
His Hundreds He, but She her Thousands mov'd;
From Breast to Breast contagious Mercy crept,
And Fops and Statesmen wonder'd why they wept!
Hearts hard before, unwonted Yearning know,
Ev'n Jaylers melted at a Mother's Woe.
But see! he lives, whose Death you late deplor'd!
And angry Justice sheaths her awful Sword;
Unhop'd-for Joy th'Imperial Mercy brings,
Mercy, the best Prerogative of Kings.
With Triumph now you see the Tempest o'er,
With Raptures mighty, as your Grief before.
Not so Tyrconnel welcom'd the Relief,
Inferior in his Joy, as in his Grief;
Stranger to Motions of a Mother's Mind,
In Manners diff'rent, as in Kindred join'd.
Since for your Seed such Kindness you express,
Oh, may each Child give equal Happiness!
With boundless Gratitude your Bosom burns,
Your Taste for Pleasures, and for Court returns!
To Minds transported ev'ry Thing is gay,
And January's self appears like May,
Each Change of Time in Extacy is lost,
Nor Age feels Winter, nor December Frost.
Of bright, now brighter shine your lovely Eyes,
And, wing'd with Joy, th'exalted Spirits rise;
New Warmth, new Vigour to your Veins impart,
And dance tumultuous to your beating Heart.
But Oh, beware, and curb th'o'erflowing Tide,
For oft the Over-fortunate have died,
Whom Grief, in vain, had labour'd to destroy,
Surpris'd, unequal to Excess of Joy.
And ah! too far th'unwieldy Joy prevails,
For Life, itself, may sink when Reason fails!
Since oft so high your Extacies have grown,
You seem'd the Ties of Nature to disown;
Lost for a While to Mem'ry, you disclaim
A Child so dearly lov'd, and Mother's Name!
What dang'rous Transport parent Hearts may feel,
Let Ovid soft, the Lady's Poet, tell.
Thus old Agave, mad, denies her Boy,
Possess'd with frantic, Bacchanalian Joy,
Knows not his Form, but with distracted Roar,
Mistakes her Offspring for a Forest-Boar,
Runs to compleat his Death, exulting on,
And slays a Monster, while She kills her Son.
Soon as the short Delirium past you find,
And Sense regains it's Empire o'er the Mind,
You bless the Hand that eas'd your anxious Cares,
And pour for Brunswick's House incessant Prayers!
Let the King live! (thus speaks your ardent Zeal!)
Long live, a Parent's Happiness to feel
May Peace for ever bless the sacred Line,
That ev'ry Son may live, as well as mine!
Not equal Gladness o'er your Bosom spread;
When first the Infant bless'd your genial Bed.
Not half the Mother's Transport did you find,
For what is Body's Ease to Ease of Mind?
Nor when his Prattling did your Ears engage,
And promised Wonders in his riper Age;
Nor when the Race of Youth he gayly ran,
And rose thro' various Hazards up to Man,
As when Great Cæsar spoke the Royal Word,
Which him to Life, and you to Peace restor'd,
Both by their Sov'reign's Favour born anew,
He twice a Son, and twice a Mother you.
Comments about this poem (Nature in Perfection by Richard Savage )
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