Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Lady’s Looking-Glass
By Matthew Prior (1664–1721)
In Imitation of a Greek Idyllium

CELIA and I the other day
Walked o’er the sand-hills to the sea:
The setting sun adorned the coast,
His beams entire, his fierceness lost;
And on the surface of the deep,        5
The winds lay only not asleep:
The nymph did like the scene appear,
Serenely pleasant, calmly fair;
Soft fell her words, as flew the air.
With secret joy I heard her say        10
That she would never miss one day
A walk so fine, a sight so gay.
  But, oh the change! The winds grow high;
Impending tempests charge the sky;
The lightning flies; the thunder roars;        15
And big waves lash the frightened shores.
Struck with the horror of the sight,
She turns her head and wings her flight;
And trembling vows she’ll ne’er again
Approach the shore or view the main.        20
  “Once more at least look back,” said I;
“Thyself in that large glass descry:
When thou art in good-humor drest,
When gentle reason rules thy breast,
The sun upon the calmest sea        25
Appears not half so bright as thee:
’Tis then that with delight I rove
Upon the boundless depth of love;
I bless my chain, I hand my oar,
Nor think on all I left on shore.        30
  “But when vain doubt and groundless fear
Do that dear foolish bosom tear;
When the big lip and wat’ry eye
Tell me the rising storm is nigh,—
’Tis then thou art yon angry main,        35
Deformed by winds and dashed by rain;
And the poor sailor, that must try
Its fury, labors less than I.
  “Shipwrecked, in vain to land I make,
While Love and Fate still drive me back;        40
Forced to dote on thee thy own way,
I chide thee first, and then obey.
Wretched when from thee, vexed when nigh,
I with thee or without thee die.”

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