Poems (Barbauld)/Verses written in an Alcove

VERSES written in an Alcove.


Jam Cytherea choros ducit Venus imminente Luna.
Horat.


NOW the moon-beam's trembling lustre
 Silvers o'er the dewy green,
And in soft and shadowy colours
 Sweetly paints the checquer'd scene.

Here between the opening branches
 Streams a flood of soften'd light,
There the thick and twisted foliage
Spreads the browner gloom of night.

This is sure the haunt of fairies,
 In yon cool alcove they play;
Care can never cross the threshold,
 Care was only made for day.

Far from hence be noisy clamour,
 Sick disgust and anxious fear;
Pining grief and wasting anguish
 Never keep their vigils here.

Tell no tales of sheeted spectres
 Rising from the quiet tomb;
Fairer forms this cell shall visit,
 Brighter visions gild the gloom.

Choral songs and sprightly voices
 Echo from her cell shall call;
Sweeter, sweeter than the murmur
 Of the distant water-fall.

Every ruder gust of passion
 Lull'd with music dies away,
Till within the charmed bosom
 None but soft affections play:

Soft, as when the evening breezes
 Gently stir the poplar grove;
Brighter than the smile of summer,
 Sweeter than the breath of love.

Thee, th' inchanted Muse shall follow,
Lissy! to the rustic cell,
And each careless note repeating
 Tune them to her charming shell.

Not the Muse who wreath'd with laurel
 Solemn stalks with tragic gait,
And in clear and lofty vision
 Sees the future births of fate;

Not the maid who crown'd with cypress
 Sweeps along in scepter'd pall,
And in sad and solemn accents
 Mourns the crested hero's fall;

But that other smiling sister,
 With the blue and laughing eye,
Singing, in a lighter measure,
 Strains of woodland harmony:

All unknown to fame and glory,
 Easy, blithe and debonair,
Crown'd with flowers, her careless tresses
 Loosely floating on the air.

Then, when next the star of evening
 Softly sheds the silent dew,
Let me in this rustic temple,
Lissy! meet the Muse and you.