"From the Tongue / Th' unfinish'd Period falls: while, born away / On swelling Thought, his wafted Spirit flies / To the dear Bosom of his absent Fair; / And leaves the Semblance of a Lover, fix'd / In melancholy Site, with Head declin'd, / And Love-dejected Eyes."
— Thomson, James (1700-1748)
And shun th' enchanting Glance, for 'tis too late
When on his Heart the Torrent Softness pours.
Then Interest sinks to Dirt, and distant Fame
Dissolves in Air away. While the fond Soul
Is wrapt in Dreams of Ecstacy, and Bliss;
Still paints th' illusive Form, the kindling Grace,
Th' alluring Smile, the full aethereal Eye
Effusing Heaven; and listens ardent still
To the small Voice, where Harmony and Wit,
A modest, melting, mingled Sweetness, flow.
No sooner is the fair Idea form'd,
And Contemplation fixes on the Theme,
Than from his own Creation wild He flies,
Sick of a Shadow. Absence comes apace,
And shoots his every Pang into his Breast.
'Tis nought but Gloom around. The darken'd Sun
Loses his Light. The rosy-bosom'd Spring
To weeping Fancy pines; and yon bright Arch
Of Heaven low-bends into a dusky Vault.
All Nature fades extinct; and She alone
Heard, felt, and seen, possesses every Thought,
Fills every Sense, and pants in every Vein.
Books are but formal Dulness, tedious Friends,
And sad amid the Social Band he sits,
Lonely, and inattentive. From the Tongue
Th' unfinish'd Period falls: while, born away
On swelling Thought, his wafted Spirit flies
To the dear Bosom of his absent Fair;
And leaves the Semblance of a Lover, fix'd
In melancholy Site, with Head declin'd,
And Love-dejected Eyes. Sudden he starts,
Shook from his tender Trance, and restless runs
To glimmering Shades, and sympathetic Glooms,
Where the dun Umbrage o'er the falling Stream
Romantic hangs; there thro' the pensive Dusk
Strays, in Heart-thrilling Meditation lost,
Indulging all to Love: or on the Bank
Thrown, amid drooping Lillies, swells the Breeze
With Sighs unceasing, and the Brook with Tears.
Thus in soft Anguish he consumes the Day;
Nor quits his deep Retirement, till the Moon
Peeps thro' the Chambers of the fleecy East,
Enlighten'd by Degrees, and in her Train
Leads on the gentle Hours; then forth He walks,
Beneath the trembling Languish of her Beams,
With soften'd Soul, and wooes the Bird of Eve
To mingle Woes with his: or while the World,
And all the Sons of Care lie hush'd in Sleep,
Associates with the Mid-night Shadows drear,
And, sighing to the lonely Taper, pours
His sweetly-tortur'd Heart into the Page
Meant for the moving Messenger of Love.
But ah how faint, how meaningless, and poor
To what his Passion swells! which bursts the Bounds
Of every Eloquence, and asks for Looks,
Where Fondness flows on Fondness, Love on Love;
Entwisting Beams with Her's, and speaking more
Than ever charm'd, ecstatic Poet sigh'd
To listening Beauty, bright with conscious Smiles,
And graceful Vanity. But if on Bed
Delirious flung, Sleep from his Pillow flies.
All Night he tosses, nor the balmy Power
In any Posture finds; 'till the grey Morn
Lifts her pale Lustre on the paler Wretch,
Exanimate by Love: and then perhaps
Exhausted Nature sinks a-while to Rest,
Still interrupted by disorder'd Dreams,
That o'er the sick Imagination rise,
And in black Colours paint the mimic Scene.
Oft with the Charmer of his Soul he talks;
Sometimes in Crowds distrest; or if retir'd
To secret-winding, Flower-inwoven Bowers,
Far from the dull Impertinence of Man,
Just as He kneeling all his former Cares
Begins to lose in vast oblivious Love,
Snatch'd from her yielded Hand, he knows not how,
Thro' Forests huge, and long untravel'd Heaths
With Desolation brown, he wanders waste,
In Night and Tempest wrapt; or shrinks aghast,
Back, from the bending Precipice; or wades
The turbid Stream below, and strives to reach
The farther Shore, where succourless, and sad,
His Dearer Life extends her beckoning Arms,
But strives in vain, born by th' outragious Flood
To Distance down, he rides the ridgy Wave,
Or whelm'd beneath the boiling Eddy sinks.
Then a weak, wailing, lamentable Cry
Is heard, and all in Tears he wakes, again
To tread the Circle of revolving Woe.
These are the charming Agonies of Love,
Whose Misery delights. But thro' the Heart
Should Jealousy it's Venom once diffuse,
'Tis then delightful Misery no more,
But Agony unmixt, incessant Rage,
Corroding every Thought, and blasting all
The Paradise of Love. Ye Fairy Prospects then,
Ye Beds of Roses, and ye Bowers of Joy,
Farewell! Ye Gleamings of departing Peace,
Shine out your last! The yellow-tinging Plague
Internal Vision taints, and in a Night
Of livid Gloom Imagination wraps.
Ay then, instead of Love-enliven'd Cheeks,
Of Sunny Features, and of ardent Eyes
With flowing Rapture bright, dark Looks succeed,
Suffus'd, and glaring with untender Fire,
A clouded Aspect, and a burning Cheek,
Where the whole poison'd Soul, malignant, fits,
And frightens Love away. Ten thousand Fears,
Invented wild, ten thousand frantic Views
Of horrid Rivals, hanging on the Charms
For which he melts in Fondness, eat him up
With fervent Anguish, and consuming Pine.
In vain Reproaches lend their idle Aid,
Deceitful Pride, and Resolution frail,
Giving a Moment's Ease. Reflection pours,
Afresh, her Beauties on his busy Thought,
Her first Endearments, twining round the Soul,
With all the Witchcraft of ensnaring Love.
Strait the fierce Storm involves his Mind anew,
Flames thro' the Nerves, and boils along the Veins;
While anxious Doubt distracts the tortur'd Heart;
For even the sad Assurance of his Fears
Were Heaven to what he feels. Thus the warm Youth,
Whom Love deludes into his thorny Wilds,
Thro' flowery-tempting Paths, or leads a Life
Of feavor'd Rapture, or of cruel Care;
His brightest Aims extinguish'd all, and all
His lively Moments running down to Waste.
Poem first published Spring. A Poem. By Mr. Thomson (London: Printed and sold by A. Millar, at Buchanan's Head over-against St. Clement's Church in the Strand; and G. Strahan, at the Golden Ball in Cornhill, 1728). <Link to ECCO>
Text revised and expanded between 1728 and 1746. Searching text from The Poetical Works (1830), checked against earlier editions. Also reading James Sambrook's edition of The Seasons and The Castle of Indolence (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), which reproduces the 1746 edition of Thomson's poem.
Collected in The Seasons, A Hymn, A Poem to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton, and Britannia, a Poem. By Mr. Thomson (1730). <Link to ECCO>