I heard the Sisters of the Sacred Well

First Line I heard the Sisters of the Sacred Well
Author Charles Yorke
Addressee Mary Capell
Date 1747

Occasional (complimenting the book's compiler) [Literature; Classical themes; Love]

Transcribed from Leeds Brotherton Lt 119, pp. 101–102. 


I heard the Sisters of the Sacred Well, 

Complaining near the awful throne of love,

That Men their gracious Influence did repel,

And in the paths of baneful Pleasure rove; 


When Clio said, I see a Virgin fair,

Fair, as the Swan that swims Bayster's Stream, 

Like India's Gold the tresses of her Hair, 

Her Blush might well the rosy Morn beseem.


With pains unwearied in her bloom of Age, 

In faithful Volumes She records our Songs;

Secure from Time & Envy's scorn'd Rage,

Their Sacred Memory and Praise prolongs. 


Instant the Nine new string their Vocal Lyres,

The Sound a nobler Ardour seems to raise: 

The Virgin's Name new Strength new Grace inspires,

And the bright Patroness adorns their Lays. 


Princes & Ministers no more their Pride,

On her alone the Laurel they bestow:

A Wreath, to great Augustus now deny'd:

And with Mæcenas' Name no more they glow. 


But whence such fondness for an idle Verse? 

Why favour Poets, or a Song indite?

What Mortal with the Labour'd Notes rehearse, 

Or Envy those who reach Parnassus' height?


What fam'd Examples can your Clio bring,

That beauty ever did the Muse regard? 

How seldom is the fair one heard to sing,

Or fondly Sighing for the raptur'd Bard!


Was Lesbian Sappho fair, who deeply felt

The Shafts of Love, or was her Phaon gain'd?

Her moving Numbers ne'er his Soul could melt,

And Saccharissa Waller's Lay disdain'd. 


Believe me, Lover Poets are untrue; 

No real Transports in their bosom beat:

Their specious flatteries speak themselves, not you,

And all their Colouring is that gay deceit. 


Yet what preserves from dark Oblivion's Tomb,

What but the Pow'rs of Verse, to whom 'tis giv'n

Thro' Ages to transmit a Q—by's bloom. 

And raise an E—x or an H—e to heav'n. 


Why blame I then? The Cause alas too plain,

Me nor Art guides, nor Nature will inspire;

If Bards alone your partial Ear detain,

Hapless, the Strange to the tuneful Quire.