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Veiling from the eye of day,
Penance dreams her life away; In cloistered solitude she sits and sighs, While from each shrine still, small responses rise. Hear with what heart-felt beat, the midnight bell Swings its slow summons thro’ the hollow pile! The weak, wan votarist leaves her twilight-cell, To walk, with taper dim, the winding aisle;
With choral chantings vainly to aspire Beyond this nether sphere, on Rapture's wing of fire.
Lord of each pang the nerves can feel,
Hence with the rack and reeking wheel.
While gleams of glory open round,
Her heavenly form, with glowing hand,
Each fine feeling as it flows;
Pure as the mountain snows:
She smiles! and where is now the cloud
Shrinking from her glance in vain.
Her touch unlocks the day-spring from above, And lo! it visits man with beams of light and love.
WRITTEN TO BE SPOKEN BY
YES, 'tis the pulse of life ! my fears were vain ;
To drop all metaphor, that little bell
But, Ladies, say, must I alone unmask ?
* After a Tragedy, performed for her benefit, at the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane, April 27, 1795.
And, as the grave or gay her talent calls,
First; how her little breast with triumph swells,
A school-girl next, she curls her hair in papers, And mimics father's gout and mother's vapours; Discards her doll, bribes Betty for romances; Playful at church, and serious when she dances; Tramples alike on customs and on toes, And whispers all she hears to all she knows; Terror of caps, and wigs, and sober notions ! A romp! that longest of perpetual motions ! -Till tamed and tortured into foreign graces, She sports her lovely face at public places : And with blue, laughing eyes, behind her fan, First acts her part with that great actor, Man.
Too soon a flirt, approach her and she flies !
Then comes that good old character, a Wife,
Snatch half a glimpse at Concert, Opera, Ball,
Last the grey Dowager, in ancient flounces,
Thus WOMAN makes her entrance and her exit; Not least an actress when she least suspects it. Yet Nature oft peeps out and mars the plot, Each lesson lost, each poor pretence forgot; Full oft, with energy that scorns control, At once lights up the features of the soul; Unlocks each thought chained down by coward Art, And to full day the latent passions start!
- And she, whose first, best wish is your applause, Herself exemplifies the truth she draws. Born on the stage — thro' every shifting scene, Obscure or bright, tempestuous or serene, Still has your smile her trembling spirit fired! And can she act, with thoughts like these inspired ? Thus from her mind all artifice she flings, All skill, all practice, now unmeaning things ! To you, unchecked, each genuine feeling flows; For all that life endears — to you she owes.