On An Unfortunate And Beautiful Woman.

A poem by William Lisle Bowles

Oh, Mary, when distress and anguish came,
And slow disease preyed on thy wasted frame;
When every friend, ev'n like thy bloom, was fled,
And Want bowed low thy unsupported head;
Sure sad Humanity a tear might give,
And Virtue say, Live, beauteous sufferer, live!
But should there one be found, (amidst the few
Who with compassion thy last pangs might view),
One who beheld thy errors with a tear,
To whom the ruins of thy heart were dear,
Who fondly hoped, the ruthful season past,
Thy faded virtues might revive at last;
Should such be found, oh! when he saw thee lie,
Closing on every earthly hope thine eye;
When he beheld despair, with rueful trace,
Mark the strange features of thy altered face;
When he beheld, as painful death drew nigh,
Thy pale, pale cheek, thy feebly lifted eye,
Thy chill, shrunk hand, hung down as in despair,
Or slowly raised, with many a muttered prayer;
When thus, in early youth, he saw thee bend
Poor to the grave, and die without a friend;
Some sadder feelings might unbidden start,
And more than common pity touch his heart!
The eventful scene is closed; with pausing dread
And sorrow I drew nigh the silent bed;
Thy look was calm, thy heart was cold and still,
As if the world had never used it ill;
Methought the last faint smile, with traces weak,
Still seemed to linger on thy faded cheek.
Poor Mary! though most beauteous in thy face,
Ere sorrow touched it, beamed each lovely grace;
Yet, oh! thy living features never wore
A look so sweet, so eloquent before,
As this, which bids all human passions cease,
And tells my pitying heart you died in peace!

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