Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Eloïsa to Abelard

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


Eloïsa to Abelard

By Alexander Pope (1688–1744)

(See full text.)

IN these deep solitudes and awful cells,

Where heavenly-pensive contemplation dwells,

And ever-musing melancholy reigns,

What means this tumult in a Vestal’s veins?

Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?

Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?

Yet, yet I love!—From Abelard it came,

And Eloïsa yet must kiss the name.

Dear fatal name! rest ever unrevealed,

Nor pass these lips in holy silence sealed:

Hide it, my heart, within that close disguise

Where, mixed with God’s, his loved idea lies:

O, write it not my hand,—the name appears

Already written,—wash it out, my tears!

In vain lost Eloïsa weeps and prays,

Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys.

Relentless walls, whose darksome round contains

Repentant sighs and voluntary pains;

Ye rugged rocks, which holy knees have worn;

Ye grots and caverns, shagged with horrid thorn;

Shrines, where their vigils pale-eyed virgins keep;

And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep,—

Though cold like you, unmoved and silent grown,

I have not yet forgot myself to stone.

All is not Heaven’s while Abelard has part,

Still rebel nature holds out half my heart;

Nor prayers nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain,

Nor tears for ages taught to flow in vain.