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ELOISA TO ABELARD.
In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Dear, fatal name! rest ever unreveald,
15 Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys. Relentless walls, whose darksome round con
tains Repentant sighs and voluntary pains !
17 Relentless walls. This passage exhibits the Miltonic study which so strikingly distinguishes this poem from all the others of Pope. • Forgot myself to stone,' • horrid thorn,' 'pale
Ye rugged rocks, which holy knees have worn! 19
prayers nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain, Nor tears for ages taught to flow in vain.
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose, That well-known name awakens all my woes. 0, name for ever sad, for ever dear! Still breathed in sighs, still usher'd with a tear. I tremble too, where'er my own I find; Some dire misfortune follows close behind. Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow, Led through a sad variety of wo: Now warm in love, now withering in my bloom, Lost in a convent's solitary gloom ! There stern Religion quench'd the unwilling flame; There died the best of passions, Love and Fame.
Yet write, O, write me all, that I may join 41 Griefs to thy griefs, and echo sighs to thine. Nor foes nor fortune take this power away; And is my Abelard less kind than they? Tears still are mine, and those I need not spare; Love but demands what else were shed in prayer: No happier task these faded eyes pursue ; To read and weep is all they now can do.
eyed,' 'low-thoughted care,' are phrases used in Milton's minor poems, which he was known to have read with diligence.
Then share thy pain; allow that sad relief;
Thou know'st how guiltless first I met thy flame, When love approach'd me under friendship’s name;
them that heaven I lose for thee.
51 Heaven first taught letters. Warton traces the idea of those beautiful lines to the fourth book of Diodorus Siculus, which we know not whether the poet ever read: it certainly is not due to the passage generally quoted from the first letter of Eloisa :—Si imagines nobis amicorum absentium jucundæ sunt, quæ memoriam renovant, et desiderium absentiæ falso atque inani solatio levant; quanto jucundiores sunt literæ, quæ amici absentis veras notas afferunt !'
How oft, when press'd to marriage, have I said, Curse on all laws but those which love has
made! Love, free as air, at sight of human ties, 75 Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies. Let wealth, let honor wait the wedded dame, August her deed, and sacred be her fame: Before true passion all those views remove; Fame, wealth, and honor! what are you to Love? The jealous god, when we profane his fires, 81 Those restless passions in revenge inspires ; And bids them make mistaken mortals groan, Who seek in love for aught but love alone. Should at my feet the world's great master fall, Himself, his throne, his world, I'd scorn them all :
86 Not Cæsar's empress would I deign to prove; No, make me mistress to the man I love: If there be yet another name more free, More fond than mistress, make me that to thee. 0, happy state! when souls each other draw, 91 When love is liberty, and nature law: All then is full, possessing and possess'd, No craving void left aching in the breast :
88 No, make me mistress to the man I love. This monstrous sentiment is scarcely justified by the original. Eloisa merely puts a case :-If Augustus should offer me the honors of matrimony, and the world along with it, I should think it dearer, and more honorable, to be called your mistress than his empress.' The often quoted, and untrue sentiment, that love is inconsistent with the common obligations of society, is perhaps borrowed from Chaucer
Love will not be confined by maisterie :
Ev'n thought meets thought, ere from the lips it part;
95 And each warm wish springs mutual from the
heart. This sure is bliss, if bliss on earth there be ; And once the lot of Abelard and me.
Alas, how changed ! what sudden horrors rise ! A naked lover bound and bleeding lies! 100 Where, where was Eloise ? her voice, her hand, Her poniard had opposed the dire command. Barbarian, stay! that bloody stroke restrain; The crime was common, common be the pain. I can no more: by shame, by rage suppress'd, 105 Let tears and burning blushes speak the rest.
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day, When victims at yon altar's foot we lay? Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell, When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell! As with cold lips I kiss'd the sacred veil,
111 The shrines all trembled, and the lamps grew
pale: Heaven scarce believed the conquest it survey'd, And saints with wonder heard the vows I made : Yet then, to those dread altars as I drew, 115 Not on the cross my eyes were fix’d,
you ; Not grace or zeal, love only was my call; And if I lose thy love, I lose my
all. Come, with thy looks, thy words, relieve my wo ; Those still at least are left thee to bestow : 120
119 Come, with thy looks. The original here simply applies to the letters of Abelard :- Listen, I beseech you,' says Eloisa, 'to what I ask : you will see it to be but little, and, to you, of the easiest kind : while I am deprived of your presence,