Mary Tighe.

Psyche, with other poems online

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B 3 573 aiD










T.DAVISON, Lombard-street,
WliUefriars, LunOou.


To possess strong feelings and amiable
affections, and to express them with a nice
discrimination, has been the attribute of
many female writers ; some of whom have
also participated with the author of Psyche
in the unhappy lot of a suffering frame and
a premature death. Had the publication
of her poems served only as the fleeting re-
cord of such a destiny, and as a monument



of private regret, her friends would not have
thought themselves justified in displaying
them to the world. But when a writer in-
timately acquainted with classical litera-
ture, and guided b}^ a taste for real excel-
lence, has delivered in polished language
such sentiments as can tend only to encour-
age and improve the best sensations of the
human heart, then it becomes a sort of
duty in surviving friends no longer to with-
hold from the public such precious relics.

The copies of Psyche printed for the au-
thor in her lifetime were borrowed with avi-
dity, and read with delight; and the par -
tiality of friends has been already outstrip-
ped by the applause of admirers.

The smaller poems which complete this
volume may perhaps stand in need of that
indulgence which a posthumous work al-
ways demands when it did not receive the
correction of the author. They have been
selected from a larger number of poems,
which were the occasional effusion of her
thoughts, or productions of her leisure, but
not originally intended or pointed out by
herself for publication.




-Castos docet et pios amores.




The author, who dismisses to the public
the darUng object of his solitary cares, must
be prepared to consider, with some degree
of indifference, the various reception it may
then meet. But from those who write only
for the more interested eye of friend shipj

no such indifference can be expected. I
may therefore be forgiven the egotism which
makes me anxious to recommend to my
readers the tale with Avhich I present them,
while I endeavour to excuse in it all other
defects but that, which I fear cannot be ex-
cused — the deficiency of genius.

In making choice of the beautiful ancient
allegory of Love and the Soul, I had some
fears lest my subject might be condemned
by the frown of severer moralists ; however,
I hope that if such have the condescension
to read through a poem which they may
perhaps think too long, they will yet do
me the justice to allow, that I have only
pictured innocent love, such love as the


purest bosom might confess. " Lesjeunes
femmes, qui ne veulent point paroitre co-
quettes, ne doivent jamais parler de I'amour
comme d'une chose ou elles puissent avoir
part," says La Rochefoucault ; but I be-
lieve it is only the false refinement of the
most profligate court which could give birth
to such a sentiment, and that love will al-
ways be found to have had the strongest
influence where the morals have been the

I much regret that I can have no hope
of affording any pleasure to some, whose
opinion I highly respect, Avhom I have heard
profess themselves ever disgusted by the
veiled form of allegory, and yet


Are not the choicest fables of the poets.

Who were the fountains and first springs of wisdom.

Wrapt in perplexed allegories ?

But if I have not been able to resist the
seductions of the mysterious fair, who per-
haps never appears captivating except in
the eyes of her own poet, I have however
remembered that my verse cannot be worth
much consideration, and have therefore en-
deavoured to let my meaning be perfectly
obvious. The same reason has deterred
me from using the obsolete words which are
to be found in Spenser and his imitators,

.Although I cannot give up the excellence
of my subject, I am yet ready to own that


the stanza which I have chosen has man}'^
disadvantages, and that it may, perhaps,
be as tiresome to the reader as it was dif-
ficult to the author. The frequent recur-
rence of the same rhymes is b}'^ no means
well adapted to the English language ; and
I know not whether I have a ridit to offer
as an apology the restraint which I had im-
posed upon myself of strictly adhering to
the stanza which my partiality for Spenser
iirst inclined me to adopt.

The loves of Cupid and Psyche have
long been a favourite subject for poetical
allusion, and are well known as related by
Apuleius : to him I am indebted for the
outline of my tale in the two first cantos;


but even there the model is not closely co«
pied, and I have taken nothing from Moliere,
La Fontaine, Du Moustier, or Marino. I
have seen no imitations of Apuleius except
by those authors ; nor do I know that the
story of Psyche has any otlier original.

I should willingly acknowledge with gra-
titude those authors who have, perhaps,
supplied me with many expressions and
ideas ; but if 1 have subjected myself to the
charge of plagiarism, it has been by adopt-
ing the words or images which floated upon
my mind, without accurately examining,
or being indeed able to distinguish, whe-
ther I owed them to my memory or my


Si id est pcccatum, peccatum imprudentia est
Poetae, iu)n qui furtum facere studuerit.


And when I confess that all I have is
but the fruit of a much indulged taste for
that particular style of reading, let me be
excused if I do not investigate and acknow-
ledge more strictly each separate obliga-

M. T.




Oh, thou ! \\'hose tender smile most partially
Hath ever blessed thy child : to thee belong
The graces which adorn my first wild song,

If aught of grace it knows : nor thou deny

Thine ever prompt attention to supply.
But let me lead thy willing ear along,
Where virtuous love still bids the strain prolong

His innocent applause ; since from thine eye
The beams of love first charmed my infant breast,

And from thy lip Affection's soothing voice
That eloquence of tenderness expressed,

Which still my grateful heart confessed divine :

Oh ! ever may its accents sweet rejoice

The soul which loves to own whate'er it has is thine !


Chi pensa quaiito un bel desio d'amore
Un spirto pellegrin tenga sublime;
Non vorria non averne acceso il core ;

Chi gusta quanto dolce il creder sia
Solo esser caro a chi sola n'e cara,
Regna in un stato a cui null' altro e pria.




Proem — Psyche introdticed — Her royal origin — Envy of
Venus — Her instructions to Cupid — The island of Pleasure
— The fountains of Joy and qfSorroiu — The appearance of
Love — Psyche asleep — Mutually wounded — Psyche reveals
her dream to her Mother — The Oracle considted — Psyche
abandoned on the Rock by its decree — Carried by Zephyrs
to the island of Pleasure — The Palace of Love — Banquet of
Love — Marriage of Cupid and Psyche — Psyche's daily
solitude — Her request to her Lover — His reluctant consent.


Let not the rugged brow the rhymes accuse,
Which speak of gentle knights and ladies fair,
Nor scorn the lighter labours of the muse,
Who yet, for cruel battles would not dare
The low-strung chords of her weak lyre prepare ;
But loves to court repose in slumbery lay,
To tell of goodly bowers and gardens rare,
Of gentle blandishments and amorous play.
And all the lore of love, in courtly verse essay.


And ye whose gentle hearts in thraldom held
The power of mighty Love already own,
When you the pains and dangers have beheld.
Which erst your lord hath for his Psyche known,
For all your sorrows this may well atone.
That he you serve the same hath suffered ;
And sure, your fond applause the tale will crown
In which your own distress is pictured,
And all that weary way which you yourselves must tread.

Most sweet would to my soul the hope appear,
That sorrow in my verse a charm might iind.
To smooth^the brow long bent with bitter cheer,
Some short distraction to the joyless mind
Which grief, with heavy chain, hath fast confined
To sad remembrance of its happier state ;
For to myself 1 ask no boon more kind
Than power another's woes to mitigate,
And that soft soothing art which anguish can abate.

And thou, sweet sprite, whose sway doth far extend.
Smile on the mean historian of thy fame !
My heart in each distress and fear befriend,
Nor ever let it feel a fiercer flame
Than innocence mav cherish free from blame.
And hope may nurse, and sympath}" may own ;
For, as thy rights I never would disclaim.
But true allegiance offered to thy throne,
So may I love but one, by one beloved alone.

That anxious torture may I never feel,
Which, doubtful, watches o'er a wandering heart.
Oh ! who that bitter torment can reveal.
Or tell the pining anguish of that smart !
In those affections may I ne'er have part.
Which easily transferred can learn to rove :
No, dearest Cupid ! when I feel thy dart.
For thy sweet Psyche's sake may no false love
The tenderness I prize lightly from me remove !


Much wearied with her long and dreary way,
And now with toil and sorrow well nigh spent,
Of sad regret and wasting grief the prey,
Fair Psyche through untrodden forests went,
To lone shades uttering oft a vain lament.
And oft in hopeless silence sighing deep,
As she her fatal error did repent,
While dear remembrance bade her ever weep.
And her pale cheek in ceaseless showers of sorrow steep.


*Mid the thick covert of that woodland shade,
A flowery bank there lay undressed by art,
But of the mossy turf spontaneous made ;
Here the young branches shot their arms athwart.
And wove the bower so thick in every part,
That the fierce beams of Phoebus glancing strong
Could never through the leaves their fury dart;
But the sweet creeping shrubs that round it throng.
Their loving fragrance mix, and trail their flowers along.

And close beside a little fountain played,
Which through the trembling leaves all joyous shone,
And with the cheerful birds sweet music made,
Kissing the surface of each polished stone
As it flowed past: sure as her favourite throne
Tranquillity might well esteem the bower,
The fresh and cool retreat have called her own,
A pleasant shelter in the sultry hour,
A refuge from the blast, and angry tempest's power.


Wooed by the soothing silence of the scene
Here Psyche stood, and looking round, lest aught
Which threatened danger near her might have been,
Awhile to rest her in that quiet spot
She laid her down, and piteously bethought
Herself on the sad changes of her fate.
Which in so short a space so much had wrought.
And now had raised her to such high estate.
And now had plunged her low in sorrow desolate.

Oh ! how refreshing seemed the breathing wind
To her faint limbs! and while her snowy hands
From her fair brow her golden hair unbind,
And of her zone unloose the silken bands.
More passing bright unveiled her beauty stands ;
For faultless was her form as beauty's queen.
And every winning grace that Love demands,
With mild attempered dignity was seen
Play o'er each lovely limb, and deck her angel mien.


Though sohtary now, dismayed, forlorn.
Without attendant through the forest rude,
The peerless maid of royal lineage born
By many a royal youth had oft been wooed ;
Low at her feet full many a prince had sued,
And homage paid unto her beauty rare ;
But all their blandishments her heart withstood ;
And well might mortal suitor sure despair.
Since mortal charms were none which might with hers

Yet nought of insolence or haughty pride
Found ever in her gentle breast a place ;
Though men her wondrous beauty deified.
And rashly deeming such celestial grace
Could never spring from any earthly race,
Lo! all forsaking Cytherea's shrine,
Her sacred altars now no more embrace.
But to fair Psyche pay those rites divine,
Which, Goddess! are thy due, and should be only thine.


But envy of her beauty's growing fame
Poisoned her sisters' hearts with secret gall,
And oft with seeming piety they blame
The worship which they justly impious call;
And oft, lest evil should their sire befal,
Besought him to forbid the erring crowd
Which hourly thronged around the regal hall,
With incense, gifts, and invocations loud.
To her whose guiltless breast, ne'er felt elation proud.

For she was timid as the wintry flower.
That, whiter than the snow it blooms amonof.
Droops its fair head submissive to the power
Of every angry blast which sweeps along
Sparing the lovely trembler, while the strong
Majestic tenants of the leafless wood
It levels low. But, ah ! the pitying song
Must tell how, than the tempest's self more rude.
Fierce wrath and cruel hate their suppliant prey pursued.


Indignant quitting her deserted fanes,
Now Cytherea sought her favourite isle,
And there from every eye her secret pains
'Mid her thick myrtle bowers concealed awhile ;
Practised no more the glance, or witching smile,
But nursed the pang she never felt before,
Of mortified disdain; then to beguile
The hours which mortal flattery soothed no more.
She various plans revolved her influence to restore.



She called her son with unaccustomed voice ;
Not with those thrilling accents of dehght
Which bade so oft enchanted Love rejoice,
Soft as the breezes of a summer's night :
Now choked with rage its change could Love affright ;
As all to sudden discontent a prey.
Shunning the cheerful day's enlivening light,
She felt the angry power's malignant sway.
And bade her favourite boy her vengeful will obey.


Bathed in those tears which vanquish human hearts,
" Oh, son beloved !" (the suppliant goddess cried,)
" If e'er thy too indulgent mother's arts
" Subdued for thee the potent deities
" Who rule my native deep, or haunt the skies ;
" Or if to me the grateful praise be due,
" Tliat to thy sceptre bow the great and wise,
" Now let thy fierce revenge my foe pursue,
" And let my rival scorned her vain presumption rue.

" For what to me avails my former boast
" That, fairer than the wife of Jove confest,
" I gained the prize thus basely to be lost ?
" With me the world's devotion to contest
" Behold a mortal dares ; though on my breast
" Still vainly brilliant shines the magic zone.
" Yet, yet I reign : by you my wrongs redrest,
" The world with humbled Psyche soon shall own
" That Venus, beauty's queen, shall be adored alone.

" Deep let her drink of that dark, bitter spring,
" Wliich flows so near thy bright and crystal tide ;
" Deep let her heart thy sharpest arrow sting,
" Its tempered barb in that black poison dyed.
" Let her, for whom contending princes sighed,
" Feel all the fury of thy fiercest flame
" For some base wretch to foul disgrace allied,
" Forgetful of her birth and her fair fame,
" Her honours all defiled, and sacrificed to shame."

Then, with sweet pressure of her rosy lip,
A kiss she gave bathed in ambrosial dew;
The thrilling joy he would for ever sip,
And his moist eyes in ecstasy imbrue.
But she whose soul still angry cares pursue.
Snatched from the soft caress her glowing chai'ms;
Her vengeful will she then enforced anew,
As she in haste dismissed him from her arms,
The cruel draught to seek of anguish and alarms.


'Mid the blue waves by circling seas embraced
A chosen spot of fairest land was seen ;
For there with favouring hand had Nature placed
All that could lovely make the varied scene :
Eternal Spring there spread her mantle green ;
Tliere high surrounding hills deep-wooded rose
O'er placid lakes ; while marble rocks between
The fragrant shrubs their pointed heads disclose,
And balmv breathes each a;a]e which o'er the island blows.

Pleasure had called the fertile lawns her own,
And thickly strewed them with her choicest flowers ;
Amid the quiet glade her golden throne
Bright shone with lustre through o'erarching bowers :
There her fair train, the ever downy Hours,
Sport on light wing with the young Joys entwined;
AVhile Hope delighted from her full lap showers
Blossoms, whose fragrance can the ravished mind
Inebriate with dreams of rapture unconfined.



And in the grassy centre of the isle,
Where the thick verdure spreads a damper shade,
Amid their native rocks concealed awhile,
Then o'er the plains in devious streams displayed,
Two gushing fountains rise ; and thence conveyed,
Their waters through the woods and vallies play,
Visit each green recess and secret glade,
With still unmingled, still meandering way,
Nor widely wandering far, can each from other stray.

But of strange contrast are their virtues found,
And oft the lady of that isle has tried
In rocky dens and caverns under ground,
The black deformed stream in vain to hide ;
Bursting all bounds her labours it defied ;
Yet many a flowery sod its course concealtj
Through plains where deep its silent waters glide,
Till secret ruin all corroding steals,
And every treacherous arch the hideous gulph reveals.


Forbidding eveiy kindly prosperous growth,
Where'er it ran, a channel bleak it wore ;
The gaping batiks receded, as though loth
To touch the poison which disgraced their shore :
There deadly anguish pours unmixed his store
Of all the ills which sting the human breast.
The hopeless tears which past delights deplore,
Heart-gnawing jealousy which knows no rest^
And self-upbraiding shame^ by stern remorse opprest.

Oh, how unlike the pure transparent stream,
Which near it bubbles o'er its golden sands !
The impeding stones with pleasant music seem
Its progress to detain from other lands ;
And all its banks, inwieathed with flowery bands,
Ambrosial fragrance shed in grateful dew :
There young Desire enchanted ever stands.
Breathing delight and fragrance ever new.
And bathed in constant joys of fond affection true.

c 2


But not to mortals is it e'er allowed
To drink unmingled of that current bright ;
Scarce can they taste the pleasurable flood,
Defiled by angry Fortune's envious spite ;
Who from tlie cup of amorous delight
Dashes the sparkling draught of brilliant joy,
Till, with dull sorrow's stream despoiled quite,
No more it cheers the soul nor charms the eye,
But 'mid the poisoned bowl distrust and anguish lie.

Here Cupid tempers his unerring darts,
And in the fount of bliss delights to play ;
Here mingles balmy sighs and pleasing smarts,
And here the honied draught will oft allay
With that black poison's all-polluting sway,
For wretched man. Hither, as Venus willed,
For Psyche's punishment he bent his way :
From either stream his amber vase he filled.
For her were meant the drops which grief alone distilled.


His quiver, sparkling bright with gems and gold,
From his fair plumed shoulder graoefnl huiig,
And from its top in brilliant chords enrolled
Each little vase resplendently was slung :
Still as he flew, around him sportive clung
His frolic train of winged Zephyrs light,
Wafting the fragrance which his tresses flung :
While odours dropped fi-om every ringlet bright,
And fi-om his blue eyes beamed ineffable delight.

Wrapt in a cloud unseen by mortal eye.
He sought the chamber of the ro3-al maid ;
There, lulled by careless soft security.
Of the impending mischief nought afraid,
Upon her purple couch was Psyche laid,
Her radiant eyes a downy slumber sealed ;
In light transparent veil alone arrayed.
Her bosom's opening charms were half revealed.
And scarce the lucid folds her polished limbs concealed.


A placid smile plays o'er each roseate lip.
Sweet severed lips ! while thus your peai'ls disclose,
That slumbering thus unconscious she may sip
The cruel presage of her future woes ?
Lightly, as fall the dews upon the rose.
Upon the coral gates of that sweet cell
The fatal drops he pours ; nor yet he knows,
Nor, though a God, can he presaging tell
How he himself shall mourn the ills of that sad spell I

Nor yet content, he from his quiver drew,
Sharpened with skill divine, a shining dart :
No need had he for bow, since thus too true
His hand might wound lier all-exposed heart;
Yet her fair s de he touched with gentlest art.
And half relenting on her beauties gazed;
Just then awaking with a sudden start
Her opening eye in humid lustre blazed.
Unseen he still remained, enchanted and amazed.


The dart which in his hand now trembling stood,
As o'er the couch lie bent with ravished eye,
Drew with its daring point celestial blood
From his smooth neck's unblemished ivory :
Heedless of this, but with a pitying sigh
Tlie e\i[ done now anxious to repair,
He shed in haste the balmy drops of joy
O'er all the silky ringlets of her hair ;
Tlien stretched his plumes divine, and breathed celestial

Unhappy Psyche ! soon the latent wound
The fading roses of her cheek confess.
Her eyes bright beams, in swimming sorrows drowned.
Sparkle no more with life and happiness
Her parents fond exulting heart to bless ;
She shuns adoring crowds, and seeks to hide
Tlie pining sorrows which her soul oppress,
Till to her mother's tears no more denied,
The secret griet she owns, for which she hngering sighed.


A dream of mingled terror and delight
Still heavy hangs upon her troubled soul.
An angry form still swims before her sight,
And still the vengeful thunders seem to roll ;
Still crushed to earth she feels the stern control
Of Venus unrelenting, unappeased :
The dream returns, she feels the fancied dole j
Once more the furies on her heart have seized,
But still she views the youth who all her sufferings eased.

Of wonderous beauty did the vision seem.
And in the freshest prime of youthful years;
Such at the close of her distressful dream
A graceful champion to her eyes appears ;
Her loved deliverer from her foes and fears
She seems in grateful transport still to press ;
Still his soft voice sounds in her ravished ears ;
D.sstlved in fondest tears of tenderness
His foriii siie oft mvokes her waking eyes to bless.


Nor was it quite a dream, for as she woke,
Ere heavenly uiists concealed him from her eye,
One sudden transitory view she took
Of Love's most radiant bright divinity;
From the fair image never can she fly,
As still consumed with vain desire she pines;
While her fond parents heave the anxious sigh.
And to avert her fate seek holy shrines
The threatened ills to learn by auguries and signs.

And now, the royal sacrifice prepared,
The milk-white bull they to the altar lead,
Whose youth the galling yoke as yet iiad spared,
jNow destined by the sacred knife to bleed:
AVhen lo! with sudden spring his horns he freed,
And head-long rushed amid the frighted throng:
While from the smoke-veiled shrine such sounds

As well might strike \Vith awe the soul most strong;
And thus divinely spoke the heaven inspired tongue.


" On nuptial couch, in nuptial vest arrayed,
" On a tall rock's high summit Psyche place:
" Let all depart, and leave the fated maid
" Who never must a mortal Hymen grace :
" A winged monster of no earthly race
" Thence soon shall bear his trembling bride away ;
" His power extends o'er all the bounds of space,
" And Jove himself has owned his dreaded sway,
"Whose flaming breath sheds fire, whom earth and
heaven obey."

With terror, anguish, and astonishment
The oracle her wretched father hears ;
Now from his brow the regal honours rent,
And now in frantic sorrow wild appears,
Nor threatened plagues, nor punishment he fears,
Refusing long the sentence to obey.
Till Psyche, trembling with submissive tears,
Bids them the sacrifice no more delay,
Prepare the funeral couch, and leave the destined prey.


Pleased by the ambiguous doom the Fates promulge,
The angry Goddess and enamoured Boy
Ahke content their various liopes indulge ;
He, still exploring with an anxious eye
The future prospect of uncertain joy,
Plans how the tender object of his care
He may protect from threatened misery;
Ah sanguine Love ! so oft deceived, forbeai'
With flattering tints to paint illusive hope so fair.

But now what lamentations rend the skies!
In amaracine wreaths the virgin choir
With lo Hymen mingle funeral cries:
Lost in the sorrows of the Lydian lyre
The breathing flutes' melodious notes expire ;

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Online LibraryMary TighePsyche, with other poems → online text (page 1 of 10)