Mary Wortley Montagu Poems >>
Saturday, the Small-Pox


The wretched FLAVIA on her couch reclin'd,
  Thus breath'd the anguish of a wounded mind ;
  A glass revers'd in her right hand she bore,
  For now she shun'd the face she sought before.

  'How am I chang'd ! alas ! how am I grown
  'A frightful spectre, to myself unknown !
  'Where's my Complexion ? where the radiant Bloom,
  'That promis'd happiness for Years to come ?
  'Then with what pleasure I this face survey'd !
 'To look once more, my visits oft delay'd !
 'Charm'd with the view, a fresher red would rise,
 'And a new life shot sparkling from my eyes !

 'Ah ! faithless glass, my wonted bloom restore;
 'Alas ! I rave, that bloom is now no more !
 'The greatest good the GODS on men bestow,
 'Ev'n youth itself, to me is useless now.
 'There was a time, (oh ! that I could forget !)
 'When opera-tickets pour'd before my feet ;
 'And at the ring, where brightest beauties shine,
 'The earliest cherries of the spring were mine.
 'Witness, O Lilly ; and thou, Motteux, tell
 'How much Japan these eyes have made ye sell.
 'With what contempt ye you saw me oft despise
 'The humble offer of the raffled prize ;
 'For at the raffle still the prize I bore,
 'With scorn rejected, or with triumph wore !
 ' Now beauty's fled, and presents are no more !

 'For me the Patriot has the house forsook,
 'And left debates to catch a passing look :
 'For me the Soldier has soft verses writ ;
 'For me the Beau has aim'd to be a Wit.
 'For me the Wit to nonsense was betray'd ;
 'The Gamester has for me his dun delay'd,
 'And overseen the card, I would have play'd.
 'The bold and haughty by success made vain,
 'Aw'd by my eyes has trembled to complain:
 'The bashful 'squire touch'd by a wish unknown,
 'Has dar'd to speak with spirit not his own ;
 'Fir'd by one wish, all did alike adore ;
 'Now beauty's fled, and lovers are no more!

 'As round the room I turn my weeping eyes,
 'New unaffected scenes of sorrow rise !
 'Far from my sight that killing picture bear,
 'The face disfigure, and the canvas tear !
 'That picture which with pride I us'd to show,
 'The lost resemblance but upbraids me now.
 'And thou, my toilette! where I oft have sat,
 'While hours unheeded pass'd in deep debate,
 'How curls should fall, or where a patch to place :
 'If blue or scarlet best became my face;
 'Now on some happier nymph thy aid bestow ;
 'On fairer heads, ye useless jewels glow !
 'No borrow'd lustre can my charms restore ;
 'Beauty is fled, and dress is now no more !

 'Ye meaner beauties, I permit ye shine ;
 'Go, triumph in the hearts that once were mine ;
 'But midst your triumphs with confusion know,
 ''Tis to my ruin all your arms ye owe.
 'Would pitying Heav'n restore my wonted mien,
 'Ye still might move unthought-of and unseen.
 'But oh ! how vain, how wretched is the boast
 'Of beauty faded, and of empire lost !
 'What now is left but weeping, to deplore
 'My beauty fled, and empire now no more !

 'Ye, cruel Chymists, what with-held your aid !
 'Could no pomatums save a trembling maid ?
 'How false and trifling is that art you boast ;
 'No art can give me back my beauty lost.
 'In tears, surrounded by my friends I lay,
 'Mask'd o'er and trembled at the sight of day;
 'MIRMILLO came my fortune to deplore,
 '(A golden headed cane, well carv'd he bore)
 'Cordials, he cried, my spirits must restore :
 'Beauty is fled, and spirit is no more !

 'GALEN, the grave ; officious SQUIRT was there,
 'With fruitless grief and unavailing care :
 'MACHAON too, the great MACHAON, known
 'By his red cloak and his superior frown ;
 'And why, he cry'd, this grief and this despair ?
 'You shall again be well, again be fair ;
 'Believe my oath; (with that an oath he swore)
 'False was his oath; my beauty is no more!

 'Cease, hapless maid, no more thy tale pursue,
 'Forsake mankind, and bid the world adieu !
 'Monarchs and beauties rule with equal sway ;
 'All strive to serve, and glory to obey :
 'Alike unpitied when depos'd they grow ;
 'Men mock the idol of their former vow.

 'Adieu ! ye parks ! — in some obscure recess,
 'Where gentle streams will weep at my distress,
 'Where no false friend will in my grief take part,
 'And mourn my ruin with a joyful heart ;
 'There let me live in some deserted place,
 'There hide in shades this lost inglorious face.
 'Ye, operas, circles, I no more must view !
 'My toilette, patches, all the world adieu!