Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady by Alexander Pope
Shot Analysis: This poem was written in a letter to Caryll about an unhappily married woman. It was first believed that this poem was based on fact; however, that seems to not be the case. It is written as six stanzas with varied line structure. However, much of it is in couplet rhyme form. Nonetheless, the rhyming scheme does not fit in the category of perfect. That is, the rhymes aren't true rhymes. For example, abodes and gods. In this, we can suggest that the author wanted to keep the rhyme close enough to keep his style but far enough apart to grab our attention. So what does "Elegy to the Memroy of an Unfortunate Lady" want to say to us? Essentially, it is about a woman's suicide whose father didn't react kindly towards. No one attended her funeral. And soon he will die and be alone as well, without her.
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Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady What beck'ning ghost, along the moonlight shade Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade? 'Tis she!--but why that bleeding bosom gored, Why dimly gleams the visionary sword? O, ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell, Is it, in Heav'n, a crime to love too well? To bear too tender or too firm a heart, To act a lover's or a Roman's part? Is there no bright reversion in the sky For those who greatly think, or bravely die? Why bade ye else, ye Pow'rs! her soul aspire Above the vulgar flight of low desire? Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes; The glorious fault of angels and of gods; Thence to their images on earth it flows, And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows. Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age, Dull sullen pris'ners in the body's cage: Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years, Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres; Like Eastern kings a lazy state they keep, And close confined to their own palace, sleep. From these perhaps (ere Nature bade her die) Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky. As into air the purer spirits flow, And sep'rate from their kindred dregs below, So flew the soul to its congenial place, Nor left one virtue to redeem her race. But thou, false guardian of a charge too good! Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood! See on these ruby lips the trembling breath, These cheeks now fading at the blast of Death: Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before, And those love-darting eyes must roll no more. Thus, if eternal Justice rules the ball, Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall; On all the line a sudden vengeance waits, And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates. There passengers shall stand, and pointing say (While the long fun'rals blacken all the way), 'Lo! these were they whose souls the Furies steel'd And cursed with hearts unknowing how to yield.' Thus unlamented pass the proud away, The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day! So perish all whose breast ne'er learned to glow For others' good, or melt at others' woe! What can atone (O ever-injured shade!) Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid? No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear Pleased thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier. Be foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed, By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed, By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd, By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd! What tho' no friends in sable weeds appear, Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year, And bear about the mockery of woe To midnight dances, and the public show? What tho' no weeping Loves thy ashes grace, Nor polish'd marble emulate thy face? What tho' no sacred earth allow thee room, Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb? Yet shall thy grave with rising flow'rs be drest, And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast: There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow, There the first roses of the year shall blow; While angels with their silver wings o'ershade The ground now sacred by the reliques made. So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name, What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame. How loved, how honour'd once, avails thee not, To whom related, or by whom begot; A heap of dust alone remains of thee, 'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be! Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung, Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. Ev'n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the gen'rous tear he pays; Then from his closing eyes they form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart; Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er, The Muse forgot, and thou beloved no more! Written 1712
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