Riddles dark, perplexing sense;
Darker meanings of offence;
What but shades—be banish’d hence.
Whitest thoughts in whitest dress,
Candid meanings, best express
Mind of quiet Quakeress.
* * * * *
IN THE ALBUM OF MRS. JANE TOWERS.
Lady Unknown, who crav’st from me
The trifle of a verse these leaves to grace,
How shall I find fit matter? with what face
Address a face that ne’er to me was shown?
Thy looks, tones, gesture, manners, and what not,
Conjecturing, I wander in the dark.
I know thee only Sister to Charles Clarke!
But at that name my cold muse waxes hot,
And swears that thou art such a one as he,
Warm, laughter-loving, with a touch of madness,
Wild, glee-provoking, pouring oil of gladness
From frank heart without guile. And, if thou be
The pure reverse of this, and I mistake—
Demure one, I will like thee for his sake.
* * * * *
IN THE ALBUM OF MISS ——.
Such goodness in your face doth shine,
With modest look without design,
That I despair, poor pen of mine
Can e’er express it.
To give it words I feebly try;
My spirits fail me to supply
Befitting language for’t, and I
Can only bless it!
But stop, rash verse! and don’t
A bashful Maiden’s ear with news
Of her own virtues. She’ll refuse
Praise sung so loudly.
Of that same goodness you admire,
The best part is, she don’t aspire
To praise—nor of herself desire
To think too proudly.
* * * * *
IN MY OWN ALBUM.
Fresh clad from heaven in robes of white,
A young probationer of light,
Thou wert, my soul, an album bright,
A spotless leaf; but thought, and care,
And friend and foe, in foul or fair,
Have “written strange defeatures” there;
And Time with heaviest hand of all,
Like that fierce writing on the wall,
Hath stamp’d sad dates—he can’t recall;
And error gilding worst designs—
Like speckled snake that strays and shines—
Betrays his path by crooked lines;
And vice hath left his ugly blot;
And good resolves, a moment hot,
Fairly began—but finish’d not;
And fruitless, late remorse doth trace—
Like Hebrew lore a backward pace—
Her irrecoverable race.
Disjointed numbers; sense unknit
Huge reams of folly, shreds of wit;
Compose the mingled mass of it.
My scalded eyes no longer brook
Upon this ink-blurr’d thing to look—
Go, shut the leaves, and clasp the book.