Poetic Inspiration

Elizabeth Astell, The Wrack of the Apistos, c. 1775

In thy name, Mithras, this was done
In thy name did a slave,
Once freed, enchain his fate to thee
And set upon the waves
In thy name sought he his to make
Who heretofore had none
In thy name feigned to glorify
The glory of the sun
O Mithras, look'st with pity now
Upon this fearful soul
That flew too close to radiance
And thence descends so low

There answ'reth none, the swells they come
The ship to overthrow
Monstrous loud the timbers cry
The sea riseth to limn the sky
The wretch cow'reth below

Lo though these riches glister bright
They shall not reach the shore
Sere though the years I gathered them
I covet them no more
Yea take this gold, these carvèd maids
And here this lion dread
With serpent mane and stony eye
And adamantine head
Let oceans reclaim shells and pearls
And nymphs with brilliants play
Gladly would I forfeit them
To live another day

There answ'reth none, the swells they run
Yet higher than the mast
The welkin splits with ire and fire
The wind shrieks like a daemon quire
Apistos cannot last

And thus lie I in wat’ry grave
Denied all exequies
Who kingly lived but died enslaved
To rank avidities
Around me all the treasures fair
That Mithras should have praised
Shew rev’rence ’stead to scal’d creatures
And glimpse no more his rays
And Asit Mayor ne’er shall grace
Entombed in lapis sea
What once bespoke a vaunting pride
Tokens humility