Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ode to his Wife

And now, my Marian, from its shackles free,
My wearied fancy turns for ease to thee;
To thee, my compass through life’s varied stream,
My constant object, and unfailing theme.
Torn from the bosom of my soul’s repose,
And self-devoted to surrounding woes,
Oft o’er my solitary thoughts I brood—
(For passing crowds to me are solitude)—
Catch thy loved image, on thy beauties dwell,
Improved by graces which no tongue can tell,
The look which I have seen, by love endeared,
The voice to love attuned, which I have heard.
Or rapt in thoughts of higher worth, adore
Thy virtues, drawn by mem’ry’s faithful store;
Or court, as now obsequious at her shrine,
The Muse, unkind on ev’ry theme but thine.
Nor foreign deem from such a frame of mind
This tale, to meet thy gracious ear designed,
To me, and to my state, alike belong
The subject, and the moral, of my song. . .

Ah me! no Gods, nor Angels now descend,
The sons of men in pity to befriend!
My sufferings else might some kind spirit move
To give me back on terms the wife I love:
And more than half my life would I resign,
For health, her purchase, and herself, for mine,
Borne by the Pow’rs of Air, or she should rise,
Or I rejoin her through the distant skies.
No more my thoughts in solitude should mourn
My sweet companion from my presence torn;
Nor rigid duty force me to remain,
And see her sails diminish on the main.
To her my destined hours, though few, I’d give,
And while I lived, a life of bliss I’d live.

-- Warren Hastings
(Written in Patna, India, 1784)

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