Not in the crowd of masqueraders gay,
Where coxcombs' wit with wondrous splendor flares,
And, easier than the Indian's net the prey,
The virtue of young beauties snares;
Not at the toilet-table of the fair,
Where vanity, as if before an idol, bows,
And often breathes a warmer prayer
Than when to heaven it pays its vows;
And not behind the curtain's cunning veil,
Where the world's eye is hid by cheating night,
And glowing flames the hearts assail,
That seemed but chilly in the light,
Where wisdom we surprise with shame-dyed lip,
While Phoebus' rays she boldly drinks,
Where men, like thievish children, nectar sip,
And from the spheres e'en Plato sinks
To ye to ye, O lonely sister-band,
Daughters of destiny, ascend,
When o'er the lyre all-gently sweeps my hand,
These strains, where bliss and sadness blend.
You only has no sonnet ever wooed,
To win your gold no usurer e'er sighed
No coxcomb e'er with plaints your steps pursued,
For you, Arcadian shepherd ne'er has died.
Your gentle fingers ye forever ply,
Life's nervous thread with care to twist,
Till sound the clanging shears, and fruitlessly
The tender web would then resist.
Since thou my thread of life hast kindly spun,
Thy hand, O Clotho, I now kiss!
Since thou hast spared that life whilst scarce begun,
Receive this nosegay, Lachesis!
Full often thorns upon the thread,
But oftener roses, thou hast strung;
For thorns and roses there outspread,
Clotho, to thee this lay be sung!
Oft did tempestuous passions rise,
And threat to break the thread by force;
Oft projects of gigantic size
Have checked its free, unfettered course.
Oft, in sweet hours of heavenly bliss,
Too fine appeared the thread to me;
Still oftener, when near sorrow's dark abyss,
Too firm its fabric seemed to be.
Clotho, for this and other lies,
Thy pardon I with tears implore;
Henceforth I'll take whatever prize
Sage Clotho gives, and asks no more.
But never let the shears cut off a rose
Only the thorns, yet as thou will'st!
Let, if thou will'st, the death-shears, sharply close,
If thou this single prayer fulfill'st!
Oh, goddess! when, enchained to Laura's breath,
My spirit from its shell breaks free,
Betraying when, upon the gates of death,
My youthful life hangs giddily,
Let to infinity the thread extend,
'Twill wander through the realms of bliss,
Then, goddess, let thy cruel shears descend!
Then let them fall, O Lachesis!