Amelia Opie (12 November 1769 – 2 December 1853 / Norwich)
Not one kind look....one friendly word!
Wilt thou in chilling silence sit;
Nor through the social hour afford
One cheering smile, or beam of wit?
Yet still, absorbed in studious care,
Neglect to waste one look on me;
For then my happy eyes may dare
To gaze and dwell unchecked on thee.
And still in silence sit, nor deign
One gentle precious word to say;
For silent I may then remain,
Nor let my voice my soul betray.
This faltering voice, these conscious eyes,
My throbbing heart too plainly speak:
There timid hopeless passion lies,
And bids it silence keep, and break .
To me how dear this twilight hour,
Cheered by the faggot's varying blaze!
If this be mine, I ask no more
On morn's refulgent light to gaze:
For now, while on HIS glowing cheek
I see the fire's red radiance fall,
The darkest seat I softly seek,
And gaze on HIM , unseen by all.
His folded arms, his studious brow,
His thoughtful eye, unmarked, I see;
Nor could his voice or words bestow
So dear, so true a joy on me.
But he forgets that I am near....
Fame, future fame, in thought he seeks:
To him ambition's paths appear,
And bright the sun of science breaks.
His heart with ardent hope is filled;
His prospects full of beauty bloom:
But, oh! my heart despair has chilled,
My only prospect is....the tomb!
One only boon from Heaven I claim,
And may it grant the fond desire!
That I may live to hear his fame,
And in that throb of joy expire .
Oft hast thou marked my chilling eye,
And mourned my cold reserve to see,
Resolved the fickle friend to fly,
Who seemed unjust to worth and thee:
While I, o'erjoyed, thy anger saw....
Blest proof I had not tried in vain
To give imperious passion law,
And hide my bosom's conscious pain.
But when night's sheltering darkness came,
And none the conscious wretch could view,
How fiercely burned the smothered flame!
How deep was every sigh I drew!
Yet still to thee I'll clothe my brow
In all that jealous pride requires;
My look the type of Ætna's snow....
My heart, of Ætna's secret fires.
One little moment, short as blest,
Compassion Love's soft semblance wore;
My meagre form he fondly pressed,
And on his beating bosom bore.
His frame with strong emotion shook,
And kindness tuned each faltering word;
While I, surprised, with anxious look
The meaning of his glance explored.
But soon my too experienced heart
Read nought but generous pity there;
I felt presumptuous hope depart,
And all again was dark despair.
Yet still, in memory still, my heart
Lives o'er that fleeting bliss again;
I feel his glance, his touch, impart
Emotion through each bursting vein.
And "Once ," I cry, "those eyes so sweet
On me with fondness deigned to shine;
For once I felt his bosom beat
Against the conscious throbs of mine!"
Nor shall the dear remembrance die
While aught of life to me is given;
But soothe my last convulsive sigh,
And be, till then, my joy....my heaven!
Comments about this poem (Secret Love by Amelia Opie )
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