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Anna Jane Vardill

The Lost Dove

Venus, of harness’d sparrows tir’d,
Her pigeon’s downy coat admir’d,
And sought another of the race
Her Paphian equipage to grace:
Hers is a widow’d bird—but where
Shall one be found to make a pair?
One for her airy harness fit,
Of gossamer and cobwebs knit—
The Teian sage had such a one,
Bought with a song to bribe her son.
 To old Anacreon’s heirs she sent—
They knew not what her message meant!—
The dove that lov’d their rosy sire
Had fled, in scorn, his shatter’d lyre,
Nor stoop’d its polish’d beak to stain
In nectar spilt by hands profane;
Yet oft the priests of Bacchus bring
A light down-feather from its wing:
One quill remains on Albion’s shore—
The parent-bird is seen no more.
 A gentle Muse, the friend of Love,
Went forth to match the beauteous dove.
To bow’rs and courts and camps she stray’d,
Nor miss’d the academic shade.
She tapp’d at cottage-doors, but then
Found a mere tame domestic hen:
In pompous courts she only found
The painted bird for prate renown’d;
In camps the pert flamingo star’d,
With scarlet coat and borrow’d beard;
But the true turtle, meek and kind,
On earth the Muse could never find;
And she herself, whose tender lay
Was Love’s own music, went astray—
Her place was vacant, and her lyre
Unstrung amidst th’ Aonian quire,
Till Wit went forth with three Oyesses,
For Wit can find what Beauty misses.
 Then first advanc’d a smiling dame,
The Muse’s vacant place to claim—
Wit half askance the stranger eyed—
“Is this a Muse!—How sanctified!
No fringe, no flounce!—a day-school miss
Would scorn an untrimm’d frock like this—
Fie!—’tis some cottage-sempstress come
To bring the Muses’ plain-work home.”
 Aside the modest stranger threw
Her close-drawn hood of homespun blue,—
And in a tone as shrewd and sly
Made laughing answer—“Why am I
Unlike a Muse?”—Where’r I tread
Gay hues and silvery light I spread—
I hold a wand which scatters flow’rs
O’er clay-wall’d huts or prison tow’rs;
And such sweet alchymy I teach
As pining sages cannot reach;
It finds in ev’ry heart a treasure,
And all I touch transmutes to pleasure.
With me, into its lone recess
The heart retiring may possess
A richer banquet than the Muse
With flow’rs from Fancy’s Eden strews.
O! all her wildest legend tells
Of cities built by fairy-spells,
Or cobweb cars that mount the breeze,
Or bow’rs beneath enchanted seas,
Where green-hair’d nymphs their vigils keep,
Or couch’d on coral garlands sleep;
All cannot match the revelry
I give the heart which welcomes me,
Look round this canopy divine!
Whate’er it compasses is mine—
The sun beams brightest where I live;
His gladness and his warmth I give
To all I view—my bland controul
Itself is day-light to the soul.
If ye have felt it, ye require
No Muse to lend reviving fire.
Good-nature only can impart
Soft Poesy’s most precious art,
A charm in ev’ry scene to find,
And beauty in all human-kind.
Good-nature is herself a Muse,
That lends to life poetic hues;
A gentle fabulist, whose pow’r
Cheats the dull path and dreary hour;
And while with busy care she brings,
From heart to heart kind offerings,
She leaves untouch’d the wings of Love,
But keeps his roses and his Dove.”


The European Magazine, Vol. 71, May 1817, p. 442