Robert Burns

Sylvander to Clarinda

written in 1787

When dear Clarinda, matchless fair, First struck Sylvander's raptur'd view, He gaz'd, he listened to despair, Alas! 'twas all he dared to do. Love, from Clarinda's heavenly eyes, Transfixed his bosom thro' and thro'; But still in Friendships' guarded guise, For more the demon fear'd to do. That heart, already more than lost, The imp beleaguer'd all perdue; For frowning Honour kept his post To meet that frown, he shrunk to do. His pangs the Bard refused to own, Tho' half he wish'd Clarinda knew; But Anguish wrung the unweeting groan Who blames what frantic Pain must do? That heart, where motley follies blend, Was sternly still to Honour true: To prove Clarinda's fondest friend, Was what a lover sure might do. The Muse his ready quill employed, No nearer bliss he could pursue; That bliss Clarinda cold deny'd "Send word by Charles how you do!" The chill behest disarm'd his muse, Till passion all impatient grew: He wrote, and hinted for excuse, 'Twas, 'cause "he'd nothing else to do." But by those hopes I have above! And by those faults I dearly rue! The deed, the boldest mark of love, For thee that deed I dare to do! O could the Fates but name the price Would bless me with your charms and you! With frantic joy I'd pay it thrice, If human art and power could do! Then take, Clarinda, friendship's hand, (Friendship, at least, I may avow;) And lay no more your chill command, I'll write whatever I've to do. Sylvander.

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