In what soft Language shall my Thoughts get free

First Line In what soft Language shall my Thoughts get free
Author Elizabeth Singer Rowe
Subject Thomas Rowe
Date 1737

Elegy [Love; Death, afterlife; Courtship, marriage].

Transcribed from Rowe, Elizabeth Singer. "To the Memory of Thomas Rowe, Esq;." Philomela: or, poems by Mrs. Elizabeth Singer, (now Rowe,) of Frome in Somersetshire. 2nd ed., 1737, pp. 179–184. Eighteenth Century Collections Online, GALE|CW0110246940.



In what soft Language shall my Thoughts get free,

My dear Alexis! when I talk of Thee?

Ye Muses, Graces, all ye gentle Train

Of weeping Loves, assist the pensive Strain.

But why should I implore your moving Art?

'Tis but to speak the Dictates of my Heart:

And all that knew the charming Youth will join

Their friendly Sighs, and pious Tears to mine.

For all that knew his Merit, must confess,

In Grief for him there can be no Excess;

His Soul was form'd to act each glorious Part

Of Life, unstain'd with Vanity or Art;

No Thought within his gen'rous Mind had Birth,

But what he might have own'd to Heaven and Earth:

Practis'd by him each Virtue grew more bright,

And shone with more than its own native Light.

Whatever noble Warmth could recommend

The Just, the Active, and the constant Friend,

Was all his own; but O! a dearer Name,

And softer Tyes, my endless Sorrow Claim.

Lost in Despair, distracted and forlorn,

The Lover I, and tender Husband mourn.

Whate'er to such superior Worth was due,

Whate'er Excess the fondest Passion knew,

I felt for thee, dear Youth; my Joys, my Care,

My Prayers themselves were Thine, and only where

Thou wast concern'd, my Virtue was sincere.

Whene'er I begg'd for Blessings on thy Head,

Nothing was Cold or Formal that I said.

My warmest Vows to Heav'n were made for thee,

And Love still mingled with my Piety.

O! thou wast all my Glory, all my Pride;

Thro' Life's uncertain Paths my constant Guide.

Regardless of the World, to gain thy Praise

Was all that cou'd my just Ambition raise.


Why has my Heart this fond Engagement known,

Or why has Heav'n dissolv'd the Tye so soon?

Why was the charming Youth so form'd to move?

Or why was all my Soul so turn'd for Love?

But Virtue here a vain Defence had made,

Where so much Worth and Eloquence cou'd plead.

For he could talk—'twas Extasy to hear,

'Twas Joy, 'twas Harmony to ev'ry Ear:

Eternal Music dwelt upon his Tongue,

Soft and transporting as the Muses Song.

List'ning to him, my Cares were charm'd to Rest,

And Love and silent Rapture fill'd my Breast;

Unheeded, the gay Moments took their Flight,

For Time was only measur'd by Delight.

I hear the lov'd, the melting Accent still,

And still the warm, the tender Transport feel:

Again I see the sprightly Passions rise,

And Life and Pleasure kindle in his Eyes.

My Fancy paints him now with ev'ry Grace,

But ah! the dear Resemblance mocks my fond Embrace;

The flatt'ring Vision takes its hasty Flight,

And Scenes of Horror swim before my Sight.

Grief and Despair in all their Terrors rise;

A dying Lover pale and gasping lies.

Each dismal Circumstance appears in View,

The fatal Object is for ever New;

His Anguish with the quickest Sense I feel,

And hear this sad, this moving Language still.


My dearest Wife! my last, my fondest Care!

Sure Heav'n for Thee, will hear a dying Prayer:

Be Thou the Charge of sacred Providence,

When I am gone, be that thy kind Defence;

Ten thousand smiling Blessings crown thy Head,

When I am cold, and number'd with the Dead:

Think on thy Vows; be to my Mem'ry just,

My future Fame and Honour are thy Trust.

From all Engagements here I now am free,

But that which keeps my ling'ring Soul with Thee.

How much I love, thy bleeding Heart can tell;

Which does, like mine, the Pangs of Parting feel.

But haste to meet me on the happy Plains,

Where mighty Love in endless Triumph reigns.


He ceas'd, then gently yielded up his Breath,

And fell a blooming Sacrifice to Death.

But O! what Words, what Numbers can express,

What Thought conceive, the Height of my Distress.

Why did they tear me from thy breathless Clay?

I should have stay'd and wept my Life away.

Yet, gentle Shade! whether thou now dost rove,

Thro' some blest Vale, or ever-verdant Grove,

One Moment listen to my Grief, and take

The softest Vows that ever Love can make.


For Thee, all thoughts of Pleasure I forego,

For Thee my Tears shall never cease to flow;

For Thee at once I from the World retire,

To feed in silent Shades a hopeless Fire.

My Bosom all thy Image shall retain,

The full Impression there, shall still remain:

As Thou hast taught my tender Heart to prove

The noblest Height, and Elegance of Love;

That sacred Passion I to Thee confine,

My spotless Faith shall be for ever Thine.