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Voltaire: to Madame du Châtelet

If you would have my heart love on,
Grant me such years as suit the lover,
And teach my twilight to recover
(If it but could) the flush of dawn.

Time takes my elbow now, in sign
That I must bow and turn away
From gardens where the god of wine
Divides with Love his pleasant sway.

Let us from rigorous Time obtain
What timely blessings may assuage.
Whoever will not be his age
Knows nothing of it but its pain.

Leave then to sweet and giddy youth
Those ecstasies which youth can give:
Two moments only do we live;
Let there be one for sober truth.

What! Will you leave me thus forlorn,
O tenderness, illusion, folly—
Heavenly gifts whereby I’ve borne
Life’s bitterness and melancholy?

Two deaths we suffer. To forgo
Loving, and being loved in turn,
Is deathly pain, as now I learn.
Ceasing to live is no such woe.

Thus did I mourn the loss of all
Those years when I was young and mad,
My slow heart sighing to recall
The furious beat which once it had.

Friendship, descending from above,
Came then in mercy to my aid;
She was as kind, perhaps, as Love,
Yet not so ardent, and more staid.

Touched by her charms, so fresh they were,
And by her radiance calm and clear,
I followed her; yet shed a tear
That I could follow none but her.

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