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Mary Darby Robinson Poems
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Ode to the Nightingale by Mary Darby Robinson
SWEET BIRD OF SORROW! ­why complain
In such soft melody of Song,
That ECHO, am'rous of thy Strain,
The ling'ring cadence doth prolong?
Ah! tell me, tell me, why,
Thy dulcet Notes ascend the sky.
Or on the filmy vapours glide
Along the misty moutain's side?
And wherefore dost Thou love to dwell,
In the dark wood and moss-grown cell,
Beside the willow-margin'd stream­
Why dost Thou court wan Cynthia's beam?
Sweet Songstress­if thy wayward fate
Hath robb'd Thee of thy bosom's mate,
Oh, think not thy heart-piercing moan
Evap'rates on the breezy air,
Or that the plaintive Song of Care
Steals from THY Widow'd Breast alone.
Oft have I heard thy mournful Tale,
On the high Cliff, that o'er the Vale
Hangs its dark brow, whose awful shade
Spreads a deep gloom along the glade:
Led by its sound, I've wander'd far,
Till crimson evening's flaming Star
On Heav'n's vast dome refulgent hung,
And round ethereal vapours flung;
And oft I've sought th'HYGEIAN MAID,
In rosy dimply smiles array'd,
Till forc'd with every HOPE to part,
Resistless Pain subdued my Heart.

Oh then, far o'er the restless deep
Forlorn my poignant pangs I bore,
Alone in foreign realms to weep,
Where ENVY's voice could taunt no more.
I hop'd, by mingling with the gay,
To snatch the veil of Grief away;
To break Affliction's pond'rous chain;
VAIN was the Hope­in vain I sought
The placid hour of careless thought,
Where Fashion wing'd her light career,
And sportive Pleasure danc'd along,
Oft have I shunn'd the blithsome throng,
To hide th'involuntary tear,
For e'en where rapt'rous transports glow,
From the full Heart the conscious tear will flow,
When to my downy couch remov'd,
FANCY recall'd my wearied mind
To scenes of FRIENDSHIP left behind,
Scenes still regretted, still belov'd!
Ah, then I felt the pangs of Grief,
Grasp my warm Heart, and mock relief;
My burning lids Sleep's balm defied,
And on my fev'rish lip imperfect murmurs died.

Restless and sad­I sought once more
A calm retreat on BRITAIN's shore;
Deceitful HOPE, e'en there I found
That soothing FRIENDSHIP's specious name
Was but a short-liv'd empty sound,
And LOVE a false delusive flame.

Then come, Sweet BIRD, and with thy strain,
Steal from my breast the thorn of pain;
Blest solace of my lonely hours,
In craggy caves and silent bow'rs,
When HAPPY Mortals seek repose,
By Night's pale lamp we'll chaunt our woes,
And, as her chilling tears diffuse
O'er the white thorn their silv'ry dews,
I'll with the lucid boughts entwine
A weeping Wreath, which round my Head
Shall by the waning Cresent shine,
And light us to our leafy bed,­
But ah! nor leafy beds nor bow'rs
Fring'd with soft MAY's enamell'd flow'rs,
Nor pearly leaves, nor Cynthia's beams,
Nor smiling Pleasure's shad'wy dreams,
Sweet BIRD, not e'en THY melting Strains
Can calm the Heart, where TYRANT SORROW REIGNS.
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