Sunday Poetry – Mary Robinson

I featured a poem by Mary Robinson a couple of months ago but writing about Caroline Norton’s life brought her to mind & then I cam across this poem in my anthology. Both women suffered because of the men in their lives but both of them triumphed in some way over their adversity. Mary Robinson had a short life & suffered a lot of illness but after her career on the stage (where she famously caught the eye of the Prince of Wales, later George IV, in her role as Shakespeare’s Perdita) ended, she made a living as a writer. This poem, A Thousand Torments, was written in 1797.

A thousand torments wait on love – 
The sigh, the tear, the anguished groan – 
But he who never learnt to prove
A jealous pang has nothing known!

For jealousy, supreme of woe,
Nursed by distorted fancy’s power,
Can round the heart bid misery grow,
which darkens with the lingering hour,

While shadows, blanks to reason’s orb,
In dread succession haunt the brain,
And pangs, that every pang absorb,
In wild, convulsive torments reign.

At morn, at eve, the fever burns,
While phantoms tear the aching breast;
Day brings no calm, and night returns
To mark no soothing hour of rest.

Nor, when the bosom’s wasted fires
Are all extinct, is anguish o’er;
For jealousy, that ne’er expires,
Still wounds, when passion lives no more.

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