Charlotte Brooke: Irish Woman Poet No. 50

Charlotte Brooke (c1740-1793) was born on Cavan, the daughter of a antiquarian and writer, Henry. She was a self-taught Irish scholar and her Reliques of Irish poetry, published in 1789, marked the beginning of the great Anglo-Irish tradition of Translating and adapting Gaelic literature in English. Despite its great influence, she died in poverty.

As a side note, she is the 50th poet to appear in this series.

Elegy

WHEN oaths confirm a lover’s vow,
He thinks I believe him true: —
Nor oaths, nor lovers heed I now,
For memory dwells on you I

The tender talk, the face like snow
On the dark mountain’s height;
Or the sweet blossom of the floe,
Fair blooming to the fight!

But false as fair, alas, you prove.
Nor aught but fortune prize;
The youth who gain’d my heart’s first love,
From truth — to wealth he flies!

Ah that he could but still deceive,
And I still think him true!
Still fondly, as at first, believe.
And each dear scene renew!

Again, in the sequester’d vale,
Hear love’s sweet accents flow,
And quite forget the tender tale,
That fill’d my heart with woe!

See this dear trifle, — (kept to prove
How I the giver prize;)
More precious to my faithful love,
Than all thy sex’s sighs!

“What tears for thee in secret flow,
Sweet victor of the green! —
For maiden pride would veil my woe.
And seek to weep unseen.

Return ye days to love consign’d,
Fond confidence, and joy!
The crouded fair, where tokens kind
The lover’s cares employ!

Return once more, mine eyes to bless,
Thou flower of Erin’s youth!
Return sweet proofs of tenderness,
And vows of endless truth!

And Hymen at Love’s altar stand,
To sanctify the shrine,
Join the fond heart, and plighted hand.
And make thee firmly mine,

Ere envious ocean snatch thee hence,
And — Oh! — to distance bear
My love ! — my comfort ! — my defence !-
And leave me — to despair !

Yes, — yes, my only love thou art!
Whoe’er it may displease,
I will avow my captive heart,
And speak its maker’s praise!

Ah, wert thou here, to grace my side
With dear, protecting love!
Envy might rage, and spight deride,
And friends in vain reprove!

May pangs unnumber’d pierce the breast
That cruel envy arms,
That joys in constancy distress’d,
And sports with its alarms!

Bright star of love-attracting light!
For thee these terrors sway;
Grief steeps in tears the sleepless night,
And clouds the joyless day!

Ah God! — ah how, when thou art gone,
Shall comfort reach my heart!
Thy dwelling, and thy fate unknown,
Or where thy steps depart!

My father grieving at my choice!
My mother drown’d in woe!
While friends upbraid, and foes rejoice
To see my sorrows flow !

And thou, with all thy manly charms,
From this sad bosom torn!
Thy soothing voice, — thy sheltering arms,
Far — far to distance borne!

Alas! — my dim and sleepless eyes
The clouds of death obscure!
And nature, in exhausted sighs,
No longer can endure!

I can no more! — sad world farewell!
And thou, dear youth! adieu!
Dear, tho’ forsworn ! — yet, cruel! tell
Why falsehood dwells with you?

 

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