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Poem by Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Song 6 (WHEN first upon your tender cheek)

WHEN first upon your tender cheek
I saw the morn of beauty break
⁠   With mild and cheering beam,
I bow'd before your infant shrine,
The earliest sighs you had were mine,
⁠   And you my darling theme.

I saw you in that opening morn
For beauty's boundless empire born,
⁠   And first confess'd your sway;
And e'er your thoughts, devoid of art,
Could learn the value of a heart,
⁠   I gave my heart away.

I watch'd the dawn of every grace,
And gaz'd upon that angel face,
   ⁠While yet 'twas safe to gaze;
And fondly bless'd each rising charm,
Nor thought such innocence could harm
⁠   The peace of future days.

But now despotic o'er the plains
The awful noon of beauty reigns,
⁠   And kneeling crowds adore;
These charms arise too fiercely bright,
Danger and death attend the sight,
⁠   And I must hope no more.

Thus to the rising God of day
Their early vows the Persians pay,
⁠   And bless the spreading fire;
Whose glowing chariot mounting soon
Pours on their heads the burning noon;
   ⁠They sicken and expire. 

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Anna Laetitia Barbauld's other poems:
  1. Song 5 (AS near a weeping spring reclin'd)
  2. Song 3 (LEAVE me, simple shepherd, leave me)
  3. The Invitation, to Miss BЧ
  4. To Mr. [S.T.] C[oleridge]
  5. Song 4 (WHEN gentle Celia first I knew)

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