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to yon fane the suppliant nymphs repair, At virtue's shrine to pour contrition's figh: Their youthful cheek is pald with early care, And sorrow dwells in their dejected eye.
Hark! they awake a solemn plaintive lay,
Where grief with harmony delights to meet :
Nor PHILOMELA, from her lonely spray,
Thrills her clear note more querulously sweet.
Are these the fair who wont, with conscious grace,
Proud RANELAGH's resplendent round to tread?
Shine in the studied luxury of dress?
And vie in beauty with the high-born maid?
The smiling scenes of pleasure they forsake,
Obey no more amusement's idle call.
Nor mingling with the sons of mirth partake,
The treat voluptious, or the festive ball,
For sober weeds they change their bright attire,
Of the pearl bracelet ftrip the graceful arm;
Veil the white breast, that lately nurs’d desire,
And thrillid with tender exquisite alarm :
Unbraid the cunning tresses of the hair,
And each well-fancied ornament remove;
The glowing gem, the glittring solitaire-
The costly spoils of prostituted love !
Yet beauty lingers on their mournful brow,
As loth to leave the cheek bedew'd with tears ;
Which scarcely blushing with a languid glow,
Like morn's faint beam thro'gath'ring mitt appears.
No more compare them to the gaudy flow'r,
Whose painted foliage wantons in the gale :
They look the lily drooping from the show'r,
Or the pale vi'let fick’ning in the vale.
Let not the prude with acrimonious taunt,
Upbraid the humble tenants of this dome ;
That pleasure's rosy bow'r they usd to haunt,
And in the walk of loose-rob'd dalliance roam.
If fond of empire and of conquest vain,
They frequent vot'ries to their altars drew,
Yet blaz'd those altars to the fair ones' bane,
The idol they, and they the victim too!
Once deftitute of counsel, aid, of food,
Some helpless orphans in this dome reside!
Who (like the wand'ring children in the wood)
Trod the rude paths of life without a guide.
Some who were encircled by the great and rich,
Were won by wiles, and deep designing art,
By splendid bribes, and soft persuasive speech,
Of pow'r to cheat the young unguarded heart.
Some on whom beauty breath'd her radiant bloom,
While adverse stars all other gifts remov'd ;
Who hurried from the dungeon's living tomb !
To scenes their inborn virtue disapprov'd.
What tho' their youth imbib'd an early stain,
Now guilded by the rays of new-born fame,
A fecond innocence they here obtain,
While cloister'd penance heals their wounded name.
So the young myrtles in misfortune's day
Nipt by the blast that swept their vernal bed,
In shelt'ring walls their tender leaves display,
And wak’ning into life new fragrance shed I
Tho' white-wing'd peace protect this calm abode,
Tho' each tumultuous passion be suppress'd,
Still recollection wears a fting to goad,
Still conscience wakes to rob their soul of rest.
See one the tort'ring hour of mem’ry prove,
Who wrapt in pensive secrecy forlorn,
Sits musing on the pledges of her love,
Expos’d to chilly want, and grinning scorn ;
Forgot, deserted in th' extremest need,
By him who ought to shield their tender age :
Was this, seducer, this the promis'd meed?'
She cries then sinks beneath affliction's rage.
Another mourns her fall with grief sincere,
Whom tranquil reason tells fhe's fhun'd, disdain'd,
Repuls'd as vile by those who held her dear,
Who call'd her once companion, filter, friend.
That recollects the day when loft to shame,
She fondly sacrific'd her vestal charms ;
Resign'd the virgin's for an harlot's name,
And left a parent's for a spoiler's arms.
Imagination pictures to her mind
The father's rage, the mother's softer woe;
Unhappy pair ! to that distress consign’d,
A child can give, a parent only know.
At this deep scene, by fancy drawn, impress’d,
The filial passions in her heart revive :
Reproach vindictive rushes on her breast,
To nature's pangs too feelingly alive!.
If this, or fimilar tormenting thought,
Cling to their soul, when pensively alone.
For youth's offence, for love's alluring fault,
Say, do they not sufficiently atone?