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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,

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

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;

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.

“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

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.

“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,

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;

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.”