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Poem by William Cowper
The Secrets of Divine Love Are to Be Kept
Sun! stay thy course, this moment stay-- Suspend the o'er flowing tide of day, Divulge not such a love as mine, Ah! hide the mystery divine; Lest man, who deems my glory shame, Should learn the secret of my flame. O night! propitious to my views, Thy sable awning wide diffuse; Conceal alike my joy and pain, Nor draw thy curtain back again, Though morning, by the tears she shows, Seems to participate my woes. Ye stars! whose faint and feeble fires Express my languishing desires, Whose slender beams pervade the skies, As silent as my secret sighs, Those emanations of a soul, That darts her fires beyond the Pole; Your rays, that scarce assist the sight, That pierce, but not displace the night; That shine indeed, but nothing shew Of all those various scenes below, Bring no disturbance, rather prove Incentives to a sacred love. Thou moon! whose never–failing course Bespeaks a providential force, Go, tell the tidings of my flame To Him who calls the stars by name; Whose absence kills, whose presence cheers; Who blots, or brightens, all my years. While, in the blue abyss of space, Thine orb performs its rapid race; Still whisper in his listening ears The language of my sighs and tears; Tell him, I seek him, far below, Lost in a wilderness of woe. Ye thought–composing, silent hours, Diffusing peace o'er all my powers; Friends of the pensive, who conceal, In darkest shades, the flames I feel; To you I trust, and safely may, The love that wastes my strength away. In sylvan scenes and caverns rude, I taste the sweets of solitude; Retired indeed, but not alone, I share them with a spouse unknown, Who hides me here from envious eyes, From all intrusion and surprise. Imbowering shades and dens profound! Where echo rolls the voice around; Mountains! whose elevated heads A moist and misty veil o'erspreads; Disclose a solitary bride To him I love--to none beside. Ye rills, that, murmuring all the way, Among the polished pebbles stray; Creep silently along the ground, Lest, drawn by that harmonious sound, Some wanderer, whom I would not meet, Should stumble on my loved retreat. Enamelled meads, and hillocks green, And streams that water all the scene, Ye torrents, loud in distant ears, Ye fountains, that receive my tears, Ah! still conceal, with caution due, A charge I trust with none but you. If, when my pain and grief increase I seem to enjoy the sweetest peace, It is because I find so fair, The charming object of my care, That I can sport and pleasure make Of torment suffered for his sake. Ye meads and groves, unconscious things! Ye know not whence my pleasure springs; Ye know not, and ye cannot know, The source from which my sorrows flow: The dear sole cause of all I feel,-- He knows, and understands them well. Ye deserts, where the wild beasts rove, Scenes sacred to my hours of love; Ye forests, in whose shades I stray, Benighted under burning day; Ah! whisper not how blest am I, Nor while I live, nor when I die. Ye lambs, who sport beneath these shades, And bound along the mossy glades; Be taught a salutary fear, And cease to bleat when I am near: The wolf may hear your harmless cry, Whom ye should dread as much as I. How calm, amid these scenes, my mind; How perfect is the peace I find! Oh hush, be still, my every part, My tongue, my pulse, my beating heart! That love, aspiring to its cause, May suffer not a moment's pause. Ye swift–finned nations, that abide In seas, as fathomless as wide; And, unsuspicious of a snare, Pursue at large your pleasures there; Poor sportive fools! how soon does man Your heedless ignorance trepan. Away! dive deep into the brine, Where never yet sunk plummet line; Trust me, the vast leviathan Is merciful, compared with man; Avoid his arts, forsake the beach, And never play within his reach. My soul her bondage ill endures; I pant for liberty like yours; I long for that immense profound, That knows no bottom and no bound: Lost in infinity, to prove The incomprehensible of love. Ye birds, that lessen as ye fly, And vanish in the distant sky; To whom yon airy waste belongs, Resounding with your cheerful songs; Haste to escape from human sight; Fear less the vulture and the kite. How blest and how secure am I, When, quitting earth, I soar on high; When lost, like you I disappear, And float in a sublimer sphere; Whence falling, within human view, I am ensnared and caught like you! Omniscient God, whose notice deigns, To try the heart and search the reins, Compassionate the numerous woes, I dare not, e'en to thee, disclose; O save me from the cruel hands Of men who fear not thy commands! Love, all–subduing and divine, Care for a creature truly thine; Reign in a heart, disposed to own No sovereign but thyself alone; Cherish a bride who cannot rove, Nor quit thee for a meaner love!
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