At length escap’d from ev’ry Human Eye

First Line At length escap’d from ev’ry Human Eye
Author George Lyttelton
Date 1747

Elegy [Death, afterlife; Love]. 

Transcribed from Lyttleton, George. To the Memory of a Lady Lately Deceased, 1747.



At length escap’d from ev’ry Human Eye,

From ev’ry Duty, ev’ry Care,

That in my mournful Thoughts might claim a Share,

Or force my Tears their flowing Stream to dry,

Beneath the Gloom of this embow’ring Shade

This lone Retreat, for tender sorrow made

I now may give my burden’d Heart Relief

And pour forth all my Stores of Grief,

Of Grief surpassing ev’ry other Woe

Far as the purest Bliss, the happiest Love

Can on th’ennobled Mind bestow,

Exceeds the vulgar Joys that move

Our gross Desires, inelegant, and low.


Ye tufted Groves, ye gently falling Rills,

Ye high o'ershadowing Hills,

Ye Lawns gay-smiling with eternal Green,

Oft have You my LUCY seen!

But never shall you now behold her more:

Nor will she now with fond Delight

And Taste refin'd your Rural Charms explore.

Clos'd are those beauteous Eyes in endless Night,

Those beauteous Eyes where beaming us'd to shine

Reason's pure Light, and Virtue's Spark Divine.


Oft would the Dryads of these Woods rejoice

To hear her Heav'nly Voice,

For Her despising, when she deign'd to sing,

The sweetest Songsters of the Spring:

The Woodlark and the Linnet pleas'd no more;

The Nightingale was mute,

And ev'ry Shepherd's Flute

Was cast in silent Scorn away

While all attended to her sweeter Lay.

Ye Larks and Linnets now resume your Song,

And thou, melodious Philomel

Again thy plaintive Story tell,

For Death has stopt that tuneful Tongue,

Whose Music could alone your warbling Notes excel.


In vain I look around

O'er all the well-known Ground

My LUCY'S wonted Footsteps to descry;

Where oft we us'd to walk,

Where oft in tender Talk,

We saw the Summer Sun go down the Sky;

Nor by yon Fountain's Side

Nor where its Waters glide

Along the Valley, can she now be found:

In all the wide-stretch'd Prospect's ample Bound

No more my mournful Eye

Can ought of Her espy,

But the sad sacred Earth where her dear Relics lie.


O Shades of H—y, where is now your Boast?

Your bright Inhabitant is lost.

You she preferr'd to all the gay Resorts

Where female Vanity might wish to shine,

The Pomp of Cities, and the Pride of Courts.

Her modest Beauties shunn'd the public Eye:

To your sequestered Dales

And flow'r-embroider'd Vales

From an admiring World she chose to fly;

With Nature there retir'd, and Nature's GOD,

The silent Paths of Wisdom trod,

And banish'd ev'ry Passion from her Breast,

But those, the Gentlest, and the Best,

Whose Holy Flames with Energy Divine

The virtuous Heart enliven and improve,

The Conjugal, and the Maternal Love.


Sweet Babes, who, like the little playful Fawns,

Were wont to trip along these verdant Lawns

By your delighted Mother's Side,

Who now your Infant Steps shall guide?

Ah! where is now the Hand whose tender Care

To ev'ry Virtue would have form'd your Youth,

And strew'd with Flow'rs the thorny Ways of Truth?

O Loss beyond Repair!

O wretched Father, left alone

To weep Their dire Misfortune, and Thy own!

How shall thy weaken'd Mind, oppress'd with Woe,

And drooping o'er thy LUCY'S Grave,

Perform the Duties that you doubly owe,

Now She, alas! is gone,

From Folly, and from Vice, their helpless Age to save?


Where were ye, Muses, when relentless Fate

From these fond Arms your fair Disciple tore,

From these fond Arms that vainly strove

With hapless ineffectual Love

To guard her Bosom from the mortal Blow?

Could not your fav'ring Power, Aonian Maids,

Could not, alas! Your Power prolong her Date,

For whom so oft in these inspiring Shades,

Or under Campden's Moss-clad Mountains Hoar,

You open'd all your sacred Store,

Whate'er your antient Sages taught,

Your ancient Bards sublimely thought,

And bade her raptur'd Breast with all your Spirit Glow?


Nor then did Pindus, or Castalia's Plain,

Or Aganippe's Fount your Steps detain,

Nor in the Thespian Vallies did you play;

Nor then on Mincio's Bank

Beset with Osiers dank,

Nor where Clitumnus rolls his gentle Stream,

Nor where through hanging Woods

Steep Anio pours his Floods,

Nor yet where Meles, or Ilissus stray.

Ill does it now beseem

That of your Guardian Care bereft

To dire Disease and Death your Darling should be left.


Now what avails it that in early Bloom,

When light, fantastic Toys

Are all her Sex's Joys,

With you she search'd the Wit of Greece and Rome,

And all that in her later Days

To emulate her ancient Praise

Italia's happy Genius could produce;

Or what the Gallic Fire

Bright-sparkling could inspire,

By all the Graces temper'd and refin'd;

Or what in Britain's Isle,

Most favour'd with your Smile,

The Pow'rs of Reason and of Fancy join'd

To full Perfection have conspir'd to raise?

Ah what is now the Use

Of all these Treasures that enrich'd her Mind,

To blank Oblivion's Gloom, for ever now consign'd!


At least, ye Nine, her spotless Name

'Tis Yours from Death to save,

And in the Temple of immortal Fame

With golden Characters her Worth engrave.

Come then, ye Virgin Sisters, come,

And strew with choicest Flow'rs her hallow'd Tomb.

But foremost Thou, in sable Vestment clad,

With Accents sweet and sad,

Thou, plaintive Muse, whom o'er his Laura's Urn

Unhappy Petrarch call'd to mourn,

O come, and to this fairer Laura pay

A more impassion'd Tear, a more pathetic Lay.


Tell how each Beauty of her Mind and Face

Was brighten'd by some sweet, peculiar Grace!

How eloquent in every Look

Thro' her expressive Eyes her Soul distinctly spoke!

Tell how her Manners by the World refin'd

Left all the Taint of modish Vice behind,

And made each Charm of polish'd Courts agree

With candid Truth's Simplicity,

And uncorrupted Innocence!

Tell how to more than manly Sense

She join'd the soft'ning Influence

Of more than Female Tenderness!

How in the thoughtless Days of Wealth and Joy

Which oft the Care of other's Good destroy,

Her kindly-melting Heart,

To ev'ry Want, and ev'ry Woe,

To Guilt itself when in Distress

The Balm of Pity would impart

And all Relief that Bounty could bestow!

Ev'n for the Kid or Lamb that pour'd its Life

Beneath the bloody Knife,

Her gentle Tears would fall,

As She the common Mother were of All.


Nor only Good, and Kind,

But Strong and Elevated was her Mind:

A Spirit that with noble Pride

Could look superior down

On Fortune's Smile, or Frown;

That could without Regret or Pain

To Virtue's lowest Duty sacrifice

Or Int'rest's, or Ambition's highest Prize;

That injur'd or offended never try'd

Its Dignity by Vengeance to maintain

But by magnanimous Disdain.

A Wit, that temperately bright,

With inoffensive Light

All pleasing shone, nor ever past

The decent Bounds that Wisdom's sober Hand,

And sweet Benevolence's mild Command,

And bashful Modesty, before it cast.

A Prudence undeceiving, undeceiv'd,

That nor too little, nor too much believ'd,

That scorn'd unjust Suspicion's coward Fear

And without Weakness knew to be sincere.

Such LUCY was, when in her fairest Days

Amidst th' Acclaim of Universal Praise

In Life's and Glory's freshest Bloom

Death came remorseless on, and sunk her to the Tomb.


So where the silent Streams of Liris glide,

In the soft Bosom of Campania's Vale,

When now the Wintry Tempests all are fled,

And genial Summer breathes its Western Gale

The verdant Orange lifts its beauteous Head:

From ev'ry Branch the balmy Flow'rets rise,

On ev'ry Bough the golden Fruits are seen;

With Odours sweet it fills the smiling Skies,

The Wood-Nymphs tend it, and th' Idalian Queen:

But in the midst of all its blooming Pride

A sudden Blast from Apennius blows

Cold with perpetual Snows:

The tender, blighted Plant shrinks up its Leaves, and Dies.


Arise, O Petrarch, from th' Elysian Bowers

With never-fading Myrtles twin'd,

And fragrant with Ambrosial Flowers,

Where to thy Laura thou again art join'd;

Arise, and hither bring the Silver Lyre

Tun'd by thy skilful Hand

To the soft Notes of Elegant Desire,

With which o'er many a Land

Was spread the Fame of thy disastrous Love:

To me resign the vocal Shell,

And teach my Sorrows to relate

Their melancholy Tale so well

As may ev'n Things inanimate

Rough Mountain Oaks, and desart Rocks, to Pity move.


What were, alas! Thy Woes compar'd to Mine?

To Thee thy Mistress in the blissful Band

Of Hymen never gave her Hand:

The Joys of wedded Love were never thine.

In thy Domestick Care

She never bore a Share,

Nor with endearing Art

Would heal thy wounded Heart

Of ev'ry secret Grief that fester'd there:

Nor did her fond Affection on the Bed

Of Sickness watch thee, and thy languid Head

Whole Nights on her unwearied Arm sustain

And charm away the Sense of Pain:

Nor did she crown your Mutual Flame

With Pledges dear, and with a Father's tender Name.


O Best of Wives! O dearer far to me

Than when thy Virgin Charms

Were yielded to my Arms,

How can my Soul endure the Loss of Thee?

How in the World, to me a Desart grown,

Abandon'd, and alone,

Without my sweet Companion can I live?

Without thy lovely Smile,

The dear Reward of ev'ry virtuous Toil,

What Pleasures now can pall'd Ambition give?

Ev'n the delightful Sense of well-earn'd Praise,

Unshar'd by Thee, no more my lifeless Thoughts could raise.


For my distracted Mind

What Succour can I find?

O whom for Consolation shall I call?

Support me, ev'ry Friend,

Your kind Assistance lend

To bear the Weight of this oppressive Woe.

Alas! each Friend of mine

My dear, departed Love, so much was thine,

That none has any Comfort to bestow.

My Books, the best Relief

In ev'ry other Grief,

Are now with your Idea sadden'd all:

Each fav'rite Author we together read

My tortur'd Mem'ry wounds and speaks of LUCY dead.


We were the happiest Pair of Human kind!

The rolling Year its varying Course perform'd,

And back return'd again,

Another, and another smiling came,

And saw our Happiness unchang'd remain:

Still in her Golden Chain

Harmonious Concord did our Wishes bind:

Our Studies, Pleasures, Tastes the same.

O fatal, fatal Stroke,

That all this pleasing Fabric Love had rais'd

Of rare Felicity,

On which ev'n wanton Vice with Envy gaz'd,

And ev'ry Scheme of Bliss our Hearts had form'd,

With soothing Hope, for many a future Day,

In one sad Moment broke!

Yet, O my Soul, thy rising Murmurs stay,

Nor dare th' All-wise Disposer to arraign,

Or against His supreme Decree

With impious Grief complain.

That all thy full-blown Joys at once should fade

Was his most righteous Will, and be that Will obey'd.


Would thy fond Love his Grace to her controul,

And in these low Abodes of Sin and Pain

Her pure, exalted Soul

Unjustly for thy partial Good detain?

No — rather strive thy groveling Mind to raise

Up to that unclouded Blaze,

That heav'nly Radiance of eternal Light,

In which enthron'd she now with Pity sees

How frail, how insecure, how slight

Is ev'ry mortal Bliss,

Ev'n Love itself, if rising by Degrees

Beyond the Bounds of this imperfect State,

Whose fleeting Joys so soon must end,

It does not to its sov'reign Good ascend.

Rise then, my Soul, with Hope elate,

And seek those Regions of serene Delight,

Whose peaceful Path, and ever-open Gate,

No Feet but those of harden'd Guilt shall miss.

There Death himself thy LUCY shall restore,

There yield up all his Pow'r e'er to divide you more.