Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems (Part-01)

Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

At a time in history when female published writers were very rare, Anna Laetitia Barbauld stood out with her English Romantic style of writing poetry. She also produced a number of essays, including works on political subjects, and was a noted children’s author. She was certainly outspoken, even into her late sixties, and she fell foul of literary society when she published a poem called Eighteen Hundred and Eleven which, at the time of the Napoleonic wars, was derided as unpatriotic. She basically saw England as a post-war ruin and she protested vehemently about the British involvement in the war. The reviews of this poem were so vicious that she decided to lay down her pen for the rest of her life.

Annaleti

Anna Laetitia Barbauld Bio

She was born Anna Laetitia Aikin in June 1743. She was the daughter of a Leicestershire school master and the family lived in very comfortable circumstances in the village of Kibworth Harcourt. The large house in which they lived also doubled as a boys’ school and Anna’s father ran the school as well as being a Presbyterian minister at a nearby church. She grew up interested in writing and learning and soon became a teacher herself at the Palgrave Academy. She found that she had a talent for writing for children with her innovative style always enthusiastically appreciated by her readers. She also wrote on political matters, thus setting a trend for women to be passionately involved in an area that was unheard of before.

Known as a “woman of letters”, her romantic poetry laid the foundations for the development of Romanticism in England. When not writing her own material she was an active literary critic and she produced an anthology of 18th century British novels that was so far reaching that it is still studied today. Her ability to publish material in multiple genres really was ground breaking stuff at that time, especially for a female writer.

A School Eclogue

Edward

Hist, William! hist! what means that air so gay?
Thy looks, thy dress, bespeak some holiday:
Thy hat is brushed; thy hands, with wondrous pains,
Are cleansed from garden mould and inky stains;
Thy glossy shoes confess the lacquey’s care;
And recent from the comb shines thy sleek hair.
What god, what saint, this prodigy has wrought?
Declare the cause, and ease my labouring thought?

William

Mamma prevails, and I am sent for home.

Harry

Thrice happy whom such welcome tidings greet!
Thrice happy who reviews his native seat!
For him the matron spreads her candied hoard,
And early strawberries crown the smiling board;
For him crushed gooseberries with rich cream combine,
And bending boughs their fragrant fruit resign:
Custards and sillabubs his taste invite;
Sports fill the day, and feasts prolong the night.
Think not I envy, I admire thy fate:
Yet, ah! what different tasks thy comrades wait!
Some in the grammar’s thorny maze to toil,
Some with rude strokes the snowy paper soil,
Some o’er barbaric climes in maps to roam,
Far from their mother-tongue, and dear loved home.
Harsh names, of uncouth sound, their memories load,
And oft their shoulders feel the’ unpleasant goad.

Edward

Doubt not our turn will come some future time.
Now, William, hear us twain contend in rime;
For yet thy horses have not eat their hay,
And unconsumed as yet the’ allotted hour of play.

William

Then spout alternate, I consent to hear,—
Let no false rime offend my critic ear;—
But say, what prizes shall the victor hold?
I guess your pockets are not lined with gold!

Harry

A ship these hands have built, in every part
Carved, rigged, and painted, with the nicest art;
The ridgy sides are black with pitchy store,
From stem to stern ‘t is twice ten inches o’er.
The lofty mast, a straight smooth hazel framed,
The tackling silk, the Charming Sally named;
And,—but take heed lest thou divulge the tale,—
The lappet of my shirt supplied the sail;
An azure ribband for a pendant flies:—
Now, if thy verse excell, be this the prize.

Edward

For me at home the careful housewives make,
With plums and almonds rich, an ample cake.
Smooth is the top, a plain of shining ice,
The West its sweetness gives, the East its spice:
From soft Ionian isles, well known to fame,
Ulysses’ once, the luscious currant came.
The green transparent citron Spain bestows,
And from her golden groves the orange glows.
So vast the heaving mass, it scarce has room
Within the oven’s dark capacious womb;
‘Twill be consigned to the next carrier’s care,
I cannot yield it all,—be half thy share.

Harry

Well does the gift thy liquorish palate suit;
I know who robbed the orchard of its fruit.
When all were wrapt in sleep, one early morn,
While yet the dewdrop trembled on the thorn,
I marked when o’er the quickset hedge you leapt,
And, sly, beneath the gooseberry bushes crept;
Then shook the trees; a shower of apples fell,—
And where the hoard you kept I know full well;
The mellow gooseberries did themselves produce,
For through thy pocket oozed the viscous juice.

Edward

I scorn a telltale, or I could declare
How, leave unasked, you sought the neighbouring fair;
Then home by moonlight spurred your jaded steed,
And scarce returned before the hour of bed.
Think how thy trembling heart had felt affright,
Had not our master supped abroad that night.

Harry

On the smooth whitewashed ceiling near thy bed,
Mixed with thine own, is Anna’s cypher read;
From wreaths of dusky smoke the letters flow;—
Whose hand the waving candle held, I know.
Fines and jobations shall thy soul appall,
Whene’er our mistress spies the sullied wall.

Edward

Unconned her lesson once, in idle mood,
Trembling before the master, Anna stood;
I marked what prompter near her took his place,
And, whispering, saved the virgin from disgrace:
Much is the youth belied, and much the maid,
Or more than words the whisper soft conveyed.

Harry

Think not I blush to own so bright a flame,
Even boys for her assume the lover’s name;—
As far as alleys beyond taws we prize,
Or venison pasty ranks above school pies;
As much as peaches beyond apples please,
Or Parmesan excells a Suffolk cheese;
Or Palgrave donkeys lag behind a steed,—
So far do Anna’s charms all other charms exceed.

Edward

Tell, if thou canst, where is that creature bred,
Whose wide-stretched mouth is larger than its head:
Guess, and my great Apollo thou shalt be,
And cake and ship shall both remain with thee.

Harry

Explain thou first, what portent late was seen,
With strides impetuous, posting o’er the green;
Three heads, like Cerberus, the monster bore,
And one was sidelong fixed, and two before;
Eight legs, depending from his ample sides,
Each well-built flank unequally divides;
For five on this, on that side three are found,
Four swiftly move, and four not touch the ground.
Long time the moving prodigy I viewed,
By gazing men, and barking dogs pursued.

William

Cease! cease your carols, both! for lo the bell,
With jarring notes, has rung out Pleasure’s knell.
Your startled comrades, ere the game be done,
Quit their unfinished sports, and trembling run.
Haste to your forms before the master call!
With thoughtful step he paces o’er the hall,
Does with stern looks each playful loiterer greet,
Counts with his eye, and marks each vacant seat;
Intense the buzzing murmur grows around,
Loud through the dome the usher’s strokes resound.
Sneak off, and to your places slily steal,
Before the prowess of his arm you feel.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

An Address To The Deity

God of my life! and author of my days!
Permit my feeble voice to lisp thy praise;
And trembling, take upon a mortal tongue
That hallowed name to harps of seraphs sung.
Yet here the brightest seraphs could no more
Than veil their faces, tremble, and adore.
Worms, angels, men, in every different sphere
Are equal all,—for all are nothing here.
All nature faints beneath the mighty name,
Which nature’s works though all their parts proclaim.
I feel that name my inmost thoughts controul,
And breathe an awful stillness through my soul;As by a charm, the waves of grief subside;
Impetuous Passion stops her headlong tide:
At thy felt presence all emotions cease,
And my hushed spirit finds a sudden peace,
Till every worldly thought within me dies,
And earth’s gay pageants vanish from my eyes;
Till all my sense is lost in infinite,
And one vast object fills my aching sight.But soon, alas! this holy calm is broke;
My soul submits to wear her wonted yoke;
With shackled pinions strives to soar in vain,
And mingles with the dross of earth again.
But he, our gracious Master, kind as just,
Knowing our frame, remembers man is dust.
His spirit, ever brooding o’er our mind,
Sees the first wish to better hopes inclined;
Marks the young dawn of every virtuous aim,
And fans the smoking flax into a flame.His ears are open to the softest cry,
His grace descends to meet the lifted eye;
He reads the language of a silent tear,
And sighs are incense from a heart sincere.
Such are the vows, the sacrifice I give;
Accept the vow, and bid the suppliant live:
From each terrestrial bondage set me free;
Still every wish that centres not in thee;
Bid my fond hopes, my vain disquiets cease,
And point my path to everlasting peace.If the soft hand of winning Pleasure leads
By living waters, and through flowery meads,
When all is smiling, tranquil, and serene,
And vernal beauty paints the flattering scene,
O teach me to elude each latent snare,
And whisper to my sliding heart—Beware!
With caution let me hear the syren’s voice,
And doubtful, with a trembling heart, rejoice.If friendless, in a vale of tears I stray,
Where briars wound, and thorns perplex my way,
Still let my steady soul thy goodness see,
And with strong confidence lay hold on thee;
With equal eye my various lot receive,
Resigned to die, or resolute to live;
Prepared to kiss the sceptre or the rod,
While God is seen in all, and all in God.

I read his awful name, emblazoned high
With golden letters on the illumined sky;
Nor less the mystic characters I see
Wrought in each flower, inscribed in every tree;
In every leaf that trembles to the breeze
I hear the voice of God among the trees;
With thee in shady solitudes I walk,
With thee in busy crowded cities talk;
In every creature own thy forming power,
In each event thy providence adore.

Thy hopes shall animate my drooping soul,
Thy precepts guide me, and thy fears controul:
Thus shall I rest, unmoved by all alarms,
Secure within the temple of thine arms;
From anxious cares, from gloomy terrors free,
And feel myself omnipotent in thee.

Then when the last, the closing hour draws nigh,
And earth recedes before my swimming eye;
When trembling on the doubtful edge of fate
I stand, and stretch my view to either state:
Teach me to quit this transitory scene
With decent triumph and a look serene;
Teach me to fix my ardent hopes on high,
And having lived to thee, in thee to die.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Autumn

FRAGMENT

Farewell the softer hours, Spring’s opening blush
And Summer’s deeper glow, the shepherd’s pipe
Tuned to the murmurs of a weeping spring,
And song of birds, and gay enameled fields,—
Farewell! ‘T is now the sickness of the year,
Not to be medicined by the skillful hand.
Pale suns arise that like weak kings behold
Their predecessor’s empire moulder from them;
While swift-increasing spreads the black domain
Of melancholy Night;—no more content
With equal sway, her stretching shadows gain
On the bright morn, and cloud the evening sky.
Farewell the careless lingering walk at eve,
Sweet with the breath of kine and new-spread hay;
And slumber on a bank, where the lulled youth,
His head on flowers, delicious languor feels
Creep in the blood. A different season now
Invites a different song. The naked trees
Admit the tempest; rent is Nature’s robe;
Fast, fast, the blush of Summer fades away
From her wan cheek, and scarce a flower remains
To deck her bosom; Winter follows close,
Pressing impatient on, and with rude breath
Fans her discoloured tresses. Yet not all
Of grace and beauty from the falling year
Is torn ungenial. Still the taper fir
Lifts its green spire, and the dark holly edged
With gold, and many a strong perennial plant,
Yet cheer the waste: nor does yon knot of oaks
Resign its honours to the infant blast.
This is the time, and these the solemn walks,
When inspiration rushes o’er the soul
Sudden, as through the grove the rustling breeze.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Characters

OH! born to sooth distress, and lighten care;
Lively as soft, and innocent as fair;
Blest with that sweet simplicity of thought
So rarely found, and never to be taught;
Of winning speech, endearing, artless, kind,
The loveliest pattern of a female mind;
Like some fair spirit from the realms of rest
With all her native heaven within her breast;
So pure, so good, she scarce can guess at sin,

But thinks the world without like that within;
Such melting tenderness, so fond to bless,
Her charity almost becomes excess.
Wealth may be courted, wisdom be rever’d,
And beauty prais’d, and brutal strength be fear’d;
But goodness only can affection move;
And love must owe its origin to love.

OF gentle manners, and of taste refin’d,
With all the graces of a polish’d mind;
Clear sense and truth still shone in all she spoke,

And from her lips no idle sentence broke.
Each nicer elegance of art she knew;
Correctly fair, and regularly true :
Her ready fingers plied with equal skill
The pencil’s task, the needle, or the quill.
So pois’d her feelings, so compos’d her soul,
So subject all to reason’s calm controul,
One only passion, strong, and unconfin’d,
Disturb’d the balance of her even mind:
One passion rul’d despotic in her breast,
In every word, and look, and thought confest;
But that was love, and love delights to bless
The generous transports of a fond excess.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Dejection

When sickness clouds the languid eye,
And seeds of sharp diseases fly
Swift through the vital frame;
Rich drugs are torn from earth and sea,
And balsam drops from every tree,
To quench the parching flame.
But oh! what opiate can assuage
The throbbing breast’s tumultuous rage,
Which mingling passions tear!
What art the wounds of grief can bind,
Or soothe the sick impatient mind
Beneath corroding care!

Not all the potent herbs that grow
On purple heath, or mountain’s brow,
Can banished peace restore;
In vain the spring of tears to dry,
For purer air or softer sky
We quit our native shore.
Friendship, the richest balm that flows,
Was meant to heal our sharpest woes,
But runs not always pure;
And Love—has sorrows of his own,
Which not an herb beneath the moon
Is found of power to cure.
Soft Pity, mild dejected maid,
With tenderest hand applies her aid
To dry the frequent tear;
But her own griefs, of finer kind,
Too deeply wound the feeling mind
With anguish more severe.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Eighteen Hundred And Eleven

Still the loud death drum, thundering from afar,
O’er the vext nations pours the storm of war:
To the stern call still Britain bends her ear,
Feeds the fierce strife, the’ alternate hope and fear;
Bravely, though vainly, dares to strive with Fate,
And seeks by turns to prop each sinking state.
Colossal power with overwhelming force
Bears down each fort of Freedom in its course;
Prostrate she lies beneath the Despot’s sway,
While the hushed nations curse him—and obey.Bounteous in vain, with frantic man at strife,
Glad Nature pours the means—the joys of life;
In vain with orange-blossoms scents the gale,
The hills with olives clothes, with corn the vale;
Man calls to Famine, nor invokes in vain,
Disease and Rapine follow in her train;
The tramp of marching hosts disturbs the plough,
The sword, not sickle, reaps the harvest now,
And where the soldier gleans the scant supply,
The helpless peasant but retires to die;
No laws his hut from licensed outrage shield,
And war’s least horror is the’ ensanguined field.Fruitful in vain, the matron counts with pride
The blooming youths that grace her honoured side;
No son returns to press her widowed hand,
Her fallen blossoms strew a foreign strand.
—Fruitful in vain, she boasts her virgin race,
Whom cultured arts adorn and gentlest grace;
Defrauded of its homage, Beauty mourns,
And the rose withers on its virgin thorns.Frequent, some stream obscure, some uncouth name,
By deeds of blood is lifted into fame;
Oft o’er the daily page some soft one bends
To learn the fate of husband, brothers, friends,
Or the spread map with anxious eye explores,
Its dotted boundaries and penciled shores,
Asks where the spot that wrecked her bliss is found,
And learns its name but to detest the sound.And think’st thou, Britain, still to sit at ease,
An island queen amidst thy subject seas,
While the vext billows, in their distant roar,
But soothe thy slumbers, and but kiss thy shore?
To sport in wars, while danger keeps aloof,
Thy grassy turf unbruised by hostile hoof?
So sing thy flatterers;—but, Britain, know,
Thou who hast shared the guilt must share the woe.
Nor distant is the hour; low murmurs spread,
And whispered fears, creating what they dread;Ruin, as with an earthquake shock, is here,
There, the heart-witherings of unuttered fear,
And that sad death, whence most affection bleeds,
Which sickness, only of the soul, precedes.
Thy baseless wealth dissolves in air away,
Like mists that melt before the morning ray:
No more on crowded mart or busy street
Friends, meeting friends, with cheerful hurry greet;
Sad, on the ground thy princely merchants bend
Their altered looks, and evil days portend,
And fold their arms, and watch with anxious breast
The tempest blackening in the distant West.

Yes, thou must droop; thy Midas dream is o’er;
The golden tide of Commerce leaves thy shore,
Leaves thee to prove the’ alternate ills that haunt
Enfeebling Luxury and ghastly Want;
Leaves thee, perhaps, to visit distant lands,
And deal the gifts of Heaven with equal hands.

Yet, O my Country, name beloved, revered,
By every tie that binds the soul endeared,
Whose image to my infant senses came
Mixt with Religion’s light and Freedom’s holy flame!
If prayers may not avert, if ’tis thy fate
To rank amongst the names that once were great,
Not like the dim, cold Crescent shalt thou fade,
Thy debt to Science and the Muse unpaid;
Thine are the laws surrounding states revere,
Thine the full harvest of the mental year,
Thine the bright stars in Glory’s sky that shine,
And arts that make it life to live are thine.
If westward streams the light that leaves thy shores,
Still from thy lamp the streaming radiance pours.
Wide spreads thy race from Ganges to the pole,
O’er half the western world thy accents roll:
Nations beyond the Apalachian hills
Thy hand has planted and thy spirit fills:
Soon as their gradual progress shall impart
The finer sense of morals and of art,
Thy stores of knowledge the new states shall know,
And think thy thoughts, and with thy fancy glow;
Thy Lockes, thy Paleys shall instruct their youth,
Thy leading star direct their search for truth;
Beneath the spreading platan’s tent-like shade,
Or by Missouri’s rushing waters laid,
“Old father Thames” shall be the poet’s theme,
Of Hagley’s woods the’ enamoured virgin dream,
And Milton’s tones the raptured ear enthrall,
Mixt with the roaring of Niagara’s fall;
In Thomson’s glass the’ ingenuous youth shall learn
A fairer face of Nature to discern;
Nor of the bards that swept the British lyre
Shall fade one laurel, or one note expire.
Then, loved Joanna, to admiring eyes
Thy storied groups in scenic pomp shall rise;
Their high-souled strains and Shakespear’s noble rage
Shall with alternate passion shake the stage.

Some youthful Basil from thy moral lay
With stricter hand his fond desires shall sway;
Some Ethwald, as the fleeting shadows pass,
Start at his likeness in the mystic glass;
The tragic Muse resume her just controul,
With pity and with terror purge the soul,
While wide o’er transatlantic realms thy name
Shall live in light, and gather all its fame.

Where wanders Fancy down the lapse of years
Shedding o’er imaged woes untimely tears?
Fond moody power! as hopes—as fears prevail,
She longs, or dreads, to lift the awful veil,
On visions of delight now loves to dwell,
Now hears the shriek of woe or Freedom’s knell:
Perhaps, she says, long ages past away,
And set in western waves our closing day,
Night, Gothic night, again may shade the plains
Where Power is seated, and where Science reigns;
England, the seat of arts, be only known
By the grey ruin and the mouldering stone;
That Time may tear the garland from her brow,
And Europe sit in dust, as Asia now.

Yet then the’ ingenuous youth whom Fancy fires
With pictured glories of illustrious sires,
With duteous zeal their pilgrimage shall take
From the Blue Mountains, or Ontario’s lake,
With fond adoring steps to press the sod
By statesmen, sages, poets, heroes trod;
On Isis’ banks to draw inspiring air,
From Runnymede to send the patriot’s prayer;
In pensive thought, where Cam’s slow waters wind,
To meet those shades that ruled the realms of mind;
In silent halls to sculptured marbles bow,
And hang fresh wreaths round Newton’s awful brow.
Oft shall they seek some peasant’s homely shed,
Who toils, unconscious of the mighty dead,
To ask where Avon’s winding waters stray,
And thence a knot of wild flowers bear away;
Anxious inquire where Clarkson, friend of man,
Or all-accomplished Jones his race began;
If of the modest mansion aught remains
Where Heaven and Nature prompted Cowper’s strains;
Where Roscoe, to whose patriot breast belong
The Roman virtue and the Tuscan song,
Led Ceres to the black and barren moor
Where Ceres never gained a wreath before:
With curious search their pilgrim steps shall rove
By many a ruined tower and proud alcove,
Shall listen for those strains that soothed of yore
Thy rock, stern Skiddaw, and thy fall, Lodore;
Feast with Dun Edin’s classic brow their sight,
And “visit Melross by the pale moonlight.”

But who their mingled feelings shall pursue
When London’s faded glories rise to view?
The mighty city, which by every road,
In floods of people poured itself abroad;
Ungirt by walls, irregularly great,
No jealous drawbridge, and no closing gate;
Whose merchants (such the state which commerce brings)
Sent forth their mandates to dependent kings;
Streets, where the turban’d Moslem, bearded Jew,
And woolly Afric, met the brown Hindu;
Where through each vein spontaneous plenty flowed,
Where Wealth enjoyed, and Charity bestowed.
Pensive and thoughtful shall the wanderers greet
Each splendid square, and still, untrodden street;
Or of some crumbling turret, mined by time,
The broken stairs with perilous step shall climb,
Thence stretch their view the wide horizon round,
By scattered hamlets trace its ancient bound,
And, choked no more with fleets, fair Thames survey
Through reeds and sedge pursue his idle way.

With throbbing bosoms shall the wanderers tread
The hallowed mansions of the silent dead,
Shall enter the long isle and vaulted dome
Where Genius and where Valour find a home;
Awe-struck, midst chill sepulchral marbles breathe,
Where all above is still, as all beneath;
Bend at each antique shrine, and frequent turn
To clasp with fond delight some sculptured urn,
The ponderous mass of Johnson’s form to greet,
Or breathe the prayer at Howard’s sainted feet.

Perhaps some Briton, in whose musing mind
Those ages live which Time has cast behind,
To every spot shall lead his wondering guests
On whose known site the beam of glory rests:
Here Chatham’s eloquence in thunder broke,
Here Fox persuaded, or here Garrick spoke;

Shall boast how Nelson, fame and death in view,
To wonted victory led his ardent crew,
In England’s name enforced, with loftiest tone,
Their duty,—and too well fulfilled his own:
How gallant Moore,
as ebbing life dissolved,
But hoped his country had his fame absolved.
Or call up sages whose capacious mind
Left in its course a track of light behind;
Point where mute crowds on Davy’s lips reposed,
And Nature’s coyest secrets were disclosed;
Join with their Franklin, Priestley’s injured name,
Whom, then, each continent shall proudly claim.

Oft shall the strangers turn their eager feet
The rich remains of ancient art to greet,
The pictured walls with critic eye explore,
And Reynolds be what Raphael was before.
On spoils from every clime their eyes shall gaze,
Egyptian granites and the’ Etruscan vase;
And when midst fallen London, they survey
The stone where Alexander’s ashes lay,
Shall own with humbled pride the lesson just
By Time’s slow finger written in the dust.

There walks a Spirit o’er the peopled earth,
Secret his progress is, unknown his birth;
Moody and viewless as the changing wind,
No force arrests his foot, no chains can bind;
Where’er he turns, the human brute awakes,
And, roused to better life, his sordid hut forsakes:
He thinks, he reasons, glows with purer fires,
Feels finer wants, and burns with new desires:
Obedient Nature follows where he leads;
The steaming marsh is changed to fruitful meads;

The beasts retire from man’s asserted reign,
And prove his kingdom was not given in vain.
Then from its bed is drawn the ponderous ore,
Then Commerce pours her gifts on every shore,
Then Babel’s towers and terraced gardens rise,
And pointed obelisks invade the skies;
The prince commands, in Tyrian purple drest,
And Egypt’s virgins weave the linen vest.
Then spans the graceful arch the roaring tide,
And stricter bounds the cultured fields divide.
Then kindles Fancy, then expands the heart,
Then blow the flowers of Genius and of Art;
Saints, heroes, sages, who the land adorn,
Seem rather to descend than to be born;
Whilst History, midst the rolls consigned to fame,
With pen of adamant inscribes their name.

The Genius now forsakes the favoured shore,
And hates, capricious, what he loved before;
Then empires fall to dust, then arts decay,
And wasted realms enfeebled despots sway;
Even Nature’s changed; without his fostering smile
Ophir no gold, no plenty yields the Nile;
The thirsty sand absorbs the useless rill,
And spotted plagues from putrid fens distill.
In desert solitudes then Tadmor sleeps,
Stern Marius then o’er fallen Carthage weeps;
Then with enthusiast love the pilgrim roves
To seek his footsteps in forsaken groves,
Explores the fractured arch, the ruined tower,
Those limbs disjointed of gigantic power;
Still at each step he dreads the adder’s sting,
The Arab’s javelin, or the tiger’s spring;
With doubtful caution treads the echoing ground,
And asks where Troy or Babylon is found.

And now the vagrant Power no more detains
The vale of Tempe, or Ausonian plains;
Northward he throws the animating ray,
O’er Celtic nations bursts the mental day:
And, as some playful child the mirror turns,
Now here now there the moving lustre burns;
Now o’er his changeful fancy more prevail
Batavia’s dykes than Arno’s purple vale,
And stinted suns, and rivers bound with frost,
Than Enna’s plains or Baia’s viny coast;
Venice the Adriatic weds in vain,
And Death sits brooding o’er Campania’s plain;
O’er Baltic shores and through Hercynian groves,
Stirring the soul, the mighty impulse moves;
Art plies his tools, and Commerce spreads her sail,
And wealth is wafted in each shifting gale.
The sons of Odin tread on Persian looms,
And Odin’s daughters breathe distilled perfumes
Loud minstrel bards, in Gothic halls, rehearse
The Runic rhyme, and “build the lofty verse:”
The Muse, whose liquid notes were wont to swell
To the soft breathings of the’ Æolian shell,
Submits, reluctant, to the harsher tone,
And scarce believes the altered voice her own.
And now, where Cæsar saw with proud disdain
The wattled hut and skin of azure stain,
Corinthian columns rear their graceful forms,
And light varandas brave the wintry storms,
While British tongues the fading fame prolong
Of Tully’s eloquence and Maro’s song.
Where once Bonduca whirled the scythed car,
And the fierce matrons raised the shriek of war,
Light forms beneath transparent muslins float,
And tutored voices swell the artful note.
Light-leaved acacias and the shady plane
And spreading cedar grace the woodland reign;
While crystal walls the tenderer plants confine,
The fragrant orange and the nectared pine;
The Syrian grape there hangs her rich festoons,
Nor asks for purer air, or brighter noons:
Science and Art urge on the useful toil,
New mould a climate and create the soil,
Subdue the rigour of the northern Bear,
O’er polar climes shed aromatic air,
On yielding Nature urge their new demands,
And ask not gifts but tribute at her hands.

London exults:—on London Art bestows
Her summer ices and her winter rose;
Gems of the East her mural crown adorn,
And Plenty at her feet pours forth her horn;
While even the exiles her just laws disclaim,
People a continent, and build a name:
August she sits, and with extended hands
Holds forth the book of life to distant lands.

But fairest flowers expand but to decay;
The worm is in thy core, thy glories pass away;
Arts, arms and wealth destroy the fruits they bring;
Commerce, like beauty, knows no second spring.
Crime walks thy streets, Fraud earns her unblest bread,
O’er want and woe thy gorgeous robe is spread,
And angel charities in vain oppose:
With grandeur’s growth the mass of misery grows.
For see,—to other climes the Genius soars,
He turns from Europe’s desolated shores;
And lo, even now, midst mountains wrapt in storm,
On Andes’ heights he shrouds his awful form;
On Chimborazo’s summits treads sublime,
Measuring in lofty thought the march of Time;
Sudden he calls:—“’Tis now the hour!” he cries,
Spreads his broad hand, and bids the nations rise.
La Plata hears amidst her torrents’ roar;
Potosi hears it, as she digs the ore:
Ardent, the Genius fans the noble strife,
And pours through feeble souls a higher life,
Shouts to the mingled tribes from sea to sea,
And swears—Thy world, Columbus, shall be free.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Epistle To William Wilberforce, Esq.

ON THE REJECTION OF THE BILL FOR ABOLISHING THE SLAVE TRADE, 1791.

Cease, Wilberforce, to urge thy generous aim!
Thy Country knows the sin, and stands the shame!
The Preacher, Poet, Senator in vain
Has rattled in her sight the Negro’s chain;
With his deep groans assailed her startled ear,
And rent the veil that hid his constant tear;
Forced her averted eyes his stripes to scan,
Beneath the bloody scourge laid bare the man,
Claimed Pity’s tear, urged Conscience’ strong controul,
And flashed conviction on her shrinking soul.
The Muse too, soon awaked, with ready tongue
At Mercy’s shrine applausive pæans rung;
And Freedom’s eager sons in vain foretold
A new Astrean reign, an age of gold:
She knows and she persists—Still Afric bleeds,
Unchecked, the human traffic still proceeds;
She stamps her infamy to future time,
And on her hardened forehead seals the crime.

In vain, to thy white standard gathering round,
Wit, Worth, and Parts and Eloquence are found:
In vain, to push to birth thy great design,
Contending chiefs, and hostile virtues join;
All, from conflicting ranks, of power possesst
To rouse, to melt, or to inform the breast.
Where seasoned tools of Avarice prevail,
A Nation’s eloquence, combined, must fail:
Each flimsy sophistry by turns they try;
The plausive argument, the daring lie,
The artful gloss, that moral sense confounds,
The’ acknowledged thirst of gain that honour wounds:
Bane of ingenuous minds!—the’ unfeeling sneer,
Which sudden turns to stone the falling tear:
They search assiduous, with inverted skill,
For forms of wrong, and precedents of ill;
With impious mockery wrest the sacred page,
And glean up crimes from each remoter age:
Wrung Nature’s tortures, shuddering, while you tell,
From scoffing fiends bursts forth the laugh of hell;
In Britain’s senate, Misery’s pangs give birth
To jests unseemly, and to horrid mirth—
Forbear!—thy virtues but provoke our doom,
And swell the’ account of vengeance yet to come;
For, not unmarked in Heaven’s impartial plan,
Shall man, proud worm, contemn his fellow-man!
And injured Afric, by herself redresst,
Darts her own serpents at her tyrant’s breast.
Each vice, to minds depraved by bondage known,
With sure contagion fastens on his own;
In sickly languors melts his nerveless frame,
And blows to rage impetuous Passion’s flame:
Fermenting swift, the fiery venom gains
The milky innocence of infant veins;
There swells the stubborn will, damps learning’s fire,
The whirlwind wakes of uncontrouled desire,
Sears the young heart to images of woe,
And blasts the buds of Virtue as they blow.

Lo! where reclined, pale Beauty courts the breeze,
Diffused on sofas of voluptuous ease;
With anxious awe her menial train around
Catch her faint whispers of half-uttered sound;
See her, in monstrous fellowship, unite
At once the Scythian and the Sybarite!
Blending repugnant vices, misallied,
Which frugal nature purposed to divide;
See her, with indolence to fierceness joined,
Of body delicate, infirm of mind,
With languid tones imperious mandates urge;
With arm recumbent wield the household scourge;
And with unruffled mien, and placid sounds,
Contriving torture, and inflicting wounds.

Nor, in their palmy walks and spicy groves,
The form benign of rural Pleasure roves;
No milk-maid’s song, or hum of village talk,
Soothes the lone poet in his evening walk:
No willing arm the flail unwearied plies,
Where the mixed sounds of cheerful labour rise;
No blooming maids and frolic swains are seen
To pay gay homage to their harvest queen:
No heart-expanding scenes their eyes must prove
Of thriving industry and faithful love:
But shrieks and yells disturb the balmy air,
Dumb sullen looks of woe announce despair,
And angry eyes through dusky features glare.
Far from the sounding lash the Muses fly,
And sensual riot drowns each finer joy.

Nor less from the gay East, on essenced wings,
Breathing unnamed perfumes, Contagion springs;
The soft luxurious plague alike pervades
The marble palaces and rural shades;
Hence thronged Augusta builds her rosy bowers,
And decks in summer wreaths her smoky towers;
And hence, in summer bowers, Art’s costly hand
Pours courtly splendours o’er the dazzled land:
The manners melt;—one undistinguished blaze
O’erwhelms the sober pomp of elder days;
Corruption follows with gigantic stride,
And scarce vouchsafes his shameless front to hide:
The spreading leprosy taints every part,
Infects each limb, and sickens at the heart.
Simplicity, most dear of rural maids,
Weeping resigns her violated shades:
Stern Independence from his glebe retires,
And anxious Freedom eyes her drooping fires;
By foreign wealth are British morals changed,
And Afric’s sons, and India’s, smile avenged.

For you, whose tempered ardour long has borne
Untired the labour, and unmoved the scorn;
In Virtue’s fasti be inscribed your fame,
And uttered yours with Howard’s honoured name;
Friends of the friendless—Hail, ye generous band!
Whose efforts yet arrest Heaven’s lifted hand,
Around whose steady brows, in union bright,
The civic wreath and Christian’s palm unite:
Your merit stands, no greater and no less,
Without, or with the varnish of success:
But seek no more to break a nation’s fall,
For ye have saved yourselves—and that is all.
Succeeding times your struggles, and their fate,
With mingled shame and triumph shall relate;
While faithful History, in her various page,
Marking the features of this motley age,
To shed a glory, and to fix a stain,
Tells how you strove, and that you strove in vain.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Eternity

—— The year has run
Its round of seasons, has fulfilled its course,
Absolved its destined period, and is borne,
Silent and swift, to that devouring gulf,
Their womb and grave, where seasons, months and years,
Revolving periods of uncounted time,
All merge, and are forgotten.—Thou alone,
In thy deep bosom burying all the past,
Still art; and still from thine exhaustless store
New periods spring, Eternity.—Thy name
Or glad, or fearful, we pronounce, as thoughts
Wandering in darkness shape thee. Thou strange being,
Which art and must be, yet which contradict’st
All sense, all reasoning,—thou, who never wast
Less than thyself, and who still art thyself
Entire, though the deep draught which Time has taken
Equals thy present store—No line can reach
To thy unfathomed depths. The reasoning sage
Who can dissect a sunbeam, count the stars,
And measure distant worlds, is here a child,
And, humbled, drops his calculating pen.
On and still onward flows the ceaseless tide,
And wrecks of empires and of worlds are borne
Like atoms on its bosom.—Still thou art
And he who does inhabit thee.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Hymn To Content

O Thou, the Nymph with placid eye!
O seldom found, yet ever nigh!
Receive my temperate vow:
Not all the storms that shake the pole
Can e’er disturb thy halcyon soul,
And smooth unalter’d brow.O come, in simplst vest array’d,
With all thy sober cheer display’dTo bless my longing sight;
Thy mien compos’d, thy even pace,
Thy meek regard, thy matron grace,
And chaste subdued delight.No more by varying passions beat,
O gently guide my pilgrim feet
To find thy hermit cell;
Where in some pure and equal sky
Beneath thy soft indulgent eye
Thy modest virtues dwell.Simplicity in Attic vest,
And Innocence with candid breast,
And clear undaunted eye;
And Hope, who points to distant years,
Fair opening through this vale of tears
A vista to the sky.There Health, thro’ whose calm bosom glide
The temperate joys in even tide,
That rarely ebb or flow;
And Patience there, thy sister meek,
Presents her mild, unvarying cheek
To meet the offer’d blow.

Her influence taught the Phrygian sage
A tyrant master’s wanton rage
With settled smiles to meet;
Inur’d to toil and bitter bread
He bow’d his meek submitted head,
And kiss’d thy sainted feet.

But thou, oh Nymph retir’d and coy!
In what brown hamlet dost thou joy
To tell thy simple tale;

The lowliest children of the ground,
Moss rose, and violet, blossom round,
And lily of the vale.

O say what soft propitious hour
I best may chuse to hail thy power,
And court thy gentle sway?
When Autumn, friendly to the Muse,
Shall thy own modest tints diffuse,
And shed thy milder day.

When Eve, her dewy star beneath,
Thy balmy spirit loves to breathe,
And every storm is laid;
If such an hour was e’er thy choice,
Oft let me hear thy soothing voice
Low whispering thro’ the shade.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Inscription For An Ice-House

Stranger, approach! within this iron door
Thrice locked and bolted, this rude arch beneath
That vaults with ponderous stone the cell; confined
By man, the great magician, who controuls
Fire, earth and air, and genii of the storm,
And bends the most remote and opposite things
To do him service and perform his will,—
A giant sits; stern Winter; here he piles,
While summer glows around, and southern gales
Dissolve the fainting world, his treasured snows
Within the rugged cave.—Stranger, approach!
He will not cramp thy limbs with sudden age,
Nor wither with his touch the coyest flower
That decks thy scented hair. Indignant here,
Like fettered Sampson when his might was spent
In puny feats to glad the festive halls
Of Gaza’s wealthy sons; or he who sat
Midst laughing girls submiss, and patient twirled
The slender spindle in his sinewy grasp;
The rugged power, fair Pleasure’s minister,
Exerts his art to deck the genial board;
Congeals the melting peach, the nectarine smooth,
Burnished and glowing from the sunny wall:
Darts sudden frost into the crimson veins
Of the moist berry; moulds the sugared hail:
Cools with his icy breath our flowing cups;
Or gives to the fresh dairy’s nectared bowls
A quicker zest. Sullen he plies his task,
And on his shaking fingers counts the weeks
Of lingering Summer, mindful of his hour
To rush in whirlwinds forth, and rule the year.
 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Life

Animula, vagula, blandula.

Life! I know not what thou art,
But know that thou and I must part;
And when, or how, or where we met,
I own to me’s a secret yet.
But this I know, when thou art fled,
Where’er they lay these limbs, this head,
No clod so valueless shall be,
As all that then remains of me.
O whither, whither dost thou fly,
Where bend unseen thy trackless course,
And in this strange divorce,
Ah tell where I must seek this compound I?

To the vast ocean of empyreal flame,
From whence thy essence came,
Dost thou thy flight pursue, when freed
From matter’s base encumbering weed?
Or dost thou, hid from sight,
Wait, like some spell-bound knight,
Through blank oblivious years the’ appointed hour,
To break thy trance and reassume thy power?
Yet canst thou without thought or feeling be?
O say what art thou, when no more thou’rt thee?

Life! we ‘ve been long together,
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
‘Tis hard to part when friends are dear;
Perhaps ‘t will cost a sigh, a tear;
Then steal away, give little warning,
Choose thine own time;
Say not Good night, but in some brighter clime
Bid me Good morning.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Lines

PLACED OVER A CHIMNEY-PIECE

Surly Winter, come not here;
Bluster in thy proper sphere:
Howl along the naked plain,
There exert thy joyless reign;
Triumph o’er the withered flower,
The leafless shrub, the ruined bower;
But our cottage come not near;—
Other springs inhabit here,
Other sunshine decks our board,
Than the niggard skies afford.
Gloomy Winter, hence! away!
Love and Fancy scorn thy sway;
Love and Joy, and friendly Mirth,
Shall bless this roof, these walls, this hearth;
The rigour of the year controul,
And thaw the winter in the soul.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Ode To Remorse

Dread offspring of the holy light within,
Offspring of Conscience and of Sin,
Stern as thine awful sire, and fraught with woe
From bitter springs thy mother taught to flow,—
Remorse! To man alone ’tis given
Of all on earth, or all in heaven,
To wretched man thy bitter cup to drain,
Feel thy awakening stings, and taste thy wholesome pain.Midst Eden’s blissful bowers,
And amaranthine flowers,
Thy birth portentous dimmed the orient day,
What time our hapless sire,
O’ercome by fond desire,
The high command presumed to disobey;
Then didst thou rear thy snaky crest,
And raise thy scorpion lash to tear the guilty breast:
And never, since that fatal hour,
May man, of woman born, expect to’ escape thy power.Thy goading stings the branded Cain
Cross the’ untrodden desert drove,
Ere from his cradling home and native plain
Domestic man had learnt to rove.
By gloomy shade or lonely flood
Of vast primeval solitude,
Thy step his hurried steps pursued,
Thy voice awoke his conscious fears,
For ever sounding in his ears
A father’s curse, a brother’s blood;
Till life was misery too great to bear,
And torturing thought was lost in sullen, dumb despair.The king who sat on Judah’s throne,
By guilty love to murder wrought,
Was taught thy searching power to own,
When, sent of Heaven, the seer his royal presence sought.
As, wrapt in artful phrase, with sorrow feigned,
He told of helpless, meek distress,
And wrongs that sought from power redress,
The pity-moving tale his ear obtained,
And bade his better feelings wake:
Then, sudden as the trodden snake
On the scared traveller darts his fangs,
The prophet’s bold rebuke aroused thy keenest pangs.And O that look, that soft upbraiding look!
A thousand cutting, tender things it spoke,—
The sword so lately drawn was not so keen,—
Which, as the injured Master turned him round,In the strange solemn scene,
And the shrill clarion gave the’ appointed sound,
Pierced sudden through the reins,
Awakening all thy pains,
And drew a silent shower of bitter tears
Down Peter’s blushing cheek, late pale with coward fears.

Cruel Remorse! where Youth and Pleasure sport,
And thoughtless Folly keeps her court,—
Crouching midst rosy bowers thou lurk’st unseen;
Slumbering the festal hours away,
While Youth disports in that enchanting scene;
Till on some fated day
Thou with a tiger-spring dost leap upon thy prey,
And tear his helpless breast, o’erwhelmed with wild dismay.

Mark that poor wretch with clasped hands!
Pale o’er his parent’s grave he stands,—

The grave by his ingratitude prepared;
Ah then, where’er he rests his head,
On roses pillowed or the softest down,
Though festal wreaths his temples crown,
He well might envy Guatimozin’s bed,
With burning coals and sulphur spread,
And with less agony his torturing hour have shared.

For Thou art by to point the keen reproach;
Thou draw’st the curtains of his nightly couch,
Bring’st back the reverend face with tears bedewed,
That o’er his follies yearned;
The warnings oft in vain renewed,
The looks of anguish and of love,
His stubborn breast that failed to move,
When in the scorner’s chair he sat, and wholesome counsel spurned.

Lives there a man whose labouring breast
Is with some dark and guilty secret prest,

Who hides within its inmost fold
Strange crimes to mortal ear untold?
In vain to sad Chartreuse he flies,
Midst savage rocks and cloisters dim and drear,
And there to shun thee tries:
In vain untold his crime to mortal ear,
Silence and whispered sounds but make thy voice more clear.

Lo, where the cowled monk with frantic rage
Lifts high the sounding scourge, his bleeding shoulders smites!
Penance and fasts his anxious thoughts engage,
Weary his days and joyless are his nights,
His naked feet the flinty pavement tears,
His knee at every shrine the marble wears;—
Why does he lift the cruel scourge?
The restless pilgrimage why urge?
‘Tis all to quell thy fiercer rage,
‘Tis all to soothe thy deep despair,
He courts the body’s pangs, for thine he cannot bear.

See o’er the bleeding corse of her he loved,
The jealous murderer bends unmoved,
Trembling with rage, his livid lips express
His frantic passion’s wild and rash excess.
O God, she’s innocent!—transfixt he stands,
Pierced thro’ with shafts from thine avenging hands;
Down his pale cheek no tear will flow,
Nor can he shun, nor can he bear, his woe.

‘Twas phantoms summoned by thy power
Round Richard’s couch at midnight hour,
That scared the tyrant from unblest repose;
With frantic haste, “To horse! to horse!” he cries,
While on his crowned brow cold sweat-drops rise,
And fancied spears his spear oppose;
But not the swiftest steed can bear away
From thy firm grasp thine agonizing prey,

Thou wast the fiend, and thou alone;
That stood’st by Beaufort’s mitred head,
With upright hair and visage ghastly pale:
Thy terrors shook his dying bed,
Past crimes and blood his sinking heart assail,
His hands are clasped,—hark to that hollow groan!
See how his glazed, dim eye-balls wildly roll,
‘Tis not dissolving Nature’s pains; that pang is of the soul.

Where guilty souls are doomed to dwell,
‘Tis thou that mak’st their fiercest hell,
The vulture thou that on their liver feeds,
As rise to view their past unhallowed deeds;
With thee condemned to stay,
Till time has rolled away
Long æras of uncounted years,
And every stain is washed in soft repentant tears.
Servant of God—but unbeloved—proceed,
For thou must live and ply thy scorpion scourge;

Thy sharp upbraidings urge
Against the’ unrighteous deed,
Till thine accursed mother shall expire,
And a new world spring forth from renovating fire.

O! when the glare of day is fled,
And calm, beneath the evening star,
Reflection leans her pensive head,
And calls the passions to her solemn bar;
Reviews the censure rash, the hasty word,
The purposed act too long deferred,
Of time the wasted treasures lent,
And fair occasions lost and golden hours misspent:

When anxious Memory numbers o’er
Each offered prize we failed to seize;
Or friends laid low, whom now no more
Our fondest love can serve or please,
And thou, dread power! bring’st back in terrors drest,
The’ irrevocable past, to sting the careless breast;—

O! in that hour be mine to know,
While fast the silent sorrows flow,
And wisdom cherishes the wholesome pain,
No heavier guilt, no deeper stain,
Than tears of meek contrition may atone,
Shed at the mercy-seat of Heaven’s eternal throne.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

On A Portrait

Blest art! What magic powers with thine may vie,
That brings (too seldom seen) a Brother nigh?
That gives, by colours into canvass wrought,
The hue of sentiment, and tinge of thought?
The lips, with soft affection’s smile that glow,
And the mild wisdom of the studious brow?
I look, again I look, and still ’tis there;
I catch, with varying lights, a happier air;
Approach, step back, the favouring distance choose,
And, line by line, the well known face peruse:
Almost expect the opening lips to pour
With usual flow the treasured mental store,
And fondly dream our meeting glances prove
The’ accustomed beamings of fraternal love.
But O! should fate in some disastrous day,—
Avert it Heaven!—the living form decay;
Hide, hide, ye pitying friends, the mimic light,
Veil, veil the image from my tortured sight;
The shadow of past joys I could not bear,
Nor would it speak of comfort, but despair
 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

On The Death of Mrs. Martineau, Senr.

Ye who around this venerated bier
In pious anguish pour the tender tear,
Mourn not!—’Tis Virtue’s triumph, Nature’s doom,
When honoured Age, slow bending to the tomb,
Earth’s vain enjoyments past, her transient woes,
Tastes the long sabbath of well-earned repose.
No blossom here, in vernal beauty shed,
No lover lies, warm from the nuptial bed;
Here rests “the full of days,”—each task fulfilled,
Each wish accomplished, and each passion stilled.
You raised her languid head, caught her last breath,
And cheered with looks of love the couch of death.

Yet mourn!—for sweet the filial sorrows flow,
When fond affection prompts the gush of woe;
No bitter drop, ‘midst nature’s kind relief,
Sheds gall into the fountain of your grief;
No tears you shed for patient love abused,
And counsel scorned, and kind restraints refused;
Not yours the pang the conscious bosom wrings,
When late Remorse inflicts her fruitless stings.
Living you honoured her, you mourn for dead;
Her God you worship, and her path you tread:
Your sighs shall aid reflection’s serious hour,
And cherished virtues bless the kindly shower:
On the loved theme your lips unblamed shall dwell;
Your lives, more eloquent, her worth shall tell.—
Long may that worth, fair Virtue’s heritage,
From race to race descend, from age to age!
Still purer with transmitted lustre shine,
The treasured birthright of the spreading line!

—For me, as o’er the frequent grave I bend,
And pensive down the vale of years descend;—
Companions, parents, kindred called to mourn,
Dropt from my side, or from my bosom torn;
A boding voice, methinks, in Fancy’s ear
Speaks from the tomb, and cries “Thy friends are here!”

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

On The King’s Illness

Rest, rest, afflicted spirit, quickly pass
Thine hour of bitter suffering! Rest awaits thee,
There, where, the load of weary life laid down,
The peasant and the king repose together:
There peaceful sleep, thy quiet grave bedewed
With tears of those who loved thee. Not for thee,
In the dark chambers of the nether world,
Shall spectre kings rise from their burning thrones
And point the vacant seat, and scoffing say,
Art thou become like us?—O not for thee!
For thou hadst human feelings, and hast lived
A man with men; and kindly charities,
Even such as warm the cottage hearth, were thine.

And therefore falls the tear from eyes not used
To gaze on kings with admiration fond.
And thou hast knelt at meek Religion’s shrine
With no mock homage, and hast owned her rights
Sacred in every breast: and therefore rise,
Affectionate, for thee, the orisons
And mingled prayers, alike from vaulted domes
Whence the loud organ peals, and raftered roofs
Of humbler worship.—Still remembering this,
A nation’s pity and a nation’s love
Linger beside thy couch, in this the day
Of thy sad visitation, veiling faults
Of erring judgement, and not will perverse.
Yet, O that thou hadst closed the wounds of war!
That had been praise to suit a higher strain.

Farewell the years rolled down the gulf of time!
Thy name has chronicled a long bright page
Of England’s story; and perhaps the babe
Who opens, as thou closest thine, his eyes
On this eventful world, when aged grown,
Musing on times gone by, shall sigh and say,
Shaking his thin grey hairs, whitened with grief,
Our fathers’ days were happy. Fare thee well!
My thread of life has even run with thine
For many a lustre; and thy closing day
I contemplate, not mindless of my own,
Nor to its call reluctant.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Peace and Shepherd

Low in a deep sequestered vale,
Whence Alpine heights ascend,
A beauteous nymph, in pilgrim garb,
Is seen her steps to bend.
Her olive garland drops with gore;
Her scattered tresses torn,
Her bleeding breast, her bruised feet,
Bespeak a maid forlorn.
“From bower, and hall, and palace driven,
To these lone wilds I flee;
My name is Peace,—I love the cot;
O Shepherd, shelter me!”“O beauteous pilgrim, why dost thou
From bower and palace flee?
So soft thy voice, so sweet thy look,
Sure all would shelter thee.”
“Like Noah’s dove, no rest I find;
The din of battle roars
Where once my steps I loved to print
Along the myrtle shores:
“For ever in my frighted ears
The savage war-whoop sounds;
And, like a panting hare, I fly
Before the opening hounds.”
“Pilgrim, those spiry groves among,
The mansions thou mayst see,
Where cloistered saints chaunt holy hymns,—
Sure such would shelter thee!”“Those roofs with trophied banners stream,
There martial hymns resound;—
And, shepherd, oft from crosiered hands
This breast has felt a wound.”
“Ah! gentle pilgrim, glad would I
Those tones for ever hear!
With thee to share my scanty lot,
That lot to me were dear.
“But lo, along the vine-clad steep,
The gleam of armour shines;
His scattered flock, his straw-roofed hut,
The helpless swain resigns.
“And now the smouldering flames aspire;
Their lurid light I see;
I hear the human wolves approach:
I cannot shelter thee.”
 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Pious Friendship

How blest the sacred tie that binds
In union sweet according minds!
How swift the heavenly course they run,
Whose hearts, whose faith, whose hopes are one!
To each, the soul of each how dear,
What jealous love, what holy fear!
How doth the generous flame within
Refine from earth and cleanse from sin!
Their streaming tears together flow
For human guilt and mortal woe;
Their ardent prayers together rise,
Like mingling flames in sacrifice.Together both they seek the place
Where God reveals his awful face;
How high, how strong, their raptures swell,
There’s none but kindred souls can tell.
Nor shall the glowing flame expire
When nature droops her sickening fire;
Then shall they meet in realms above,
A heaven of joy—because of love.
 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

Riddle

From rosy bowers we issue forth,
From east to west, from south to north,
Unseen, unfelt, by night, by day,
Abroad we take our airy way:
We foster love and kindle strife,
The bitter and the sweet of life:
Piercing and sharp, we wound like steel;
Now, smooth as oil, those wounds we heal:
Not strings of pearl are valued more,
Or gems enchased in golden ore;
Yet thousands of us every day,
Worthless and vile, are thrown away.
Ye wise, secure with bars of brass
The double doors through which we pass;
For, once escaped, back to our cell
No human art can us compel.

 Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems
Anna Laetitia Barbauld Poems

The Baby-House

Dear Agatha, I give you joy,
And much admire your pretty toy,
A mansion in itself complete
And fitted to give guests a treat;
With couch and table, chest and chair,
The bed or supper to prepare;
We almost wish to change ourselves
To fairy forms of tripping elves,
To press the velvet couch and eat
From tiny cups the sugared meat.
I much suspect that many a sprite
Inhabits it at dead of night;
That, as they dance, the listening ear
The pat of fairy feet might hear;
That, just as you have said your prayers,
They hurry-scurry down the stairs:
And you’ll do well to try to find
Tester or ring they ‘ve left behind.But think not, Agatha, you own
That toy, a Baby-house, alone;
For many a sumptuous one is found
To press an ampler space of ground.
The broad-based Pyramid that stands
Casting its shade in distant lands,
Which asked some mighty nation’s toil
With mountain-weight to press the soil,
And there has raised its head sublime
Through æras of uncounted time,—
Its use if asked, ’tis only said,
A Baby-house to lodge the dead.
Nor less beneath more genial skies
The domes of pomp and folly rise,
Whose sun through diamond windows streams,
While gems and gold reflect his beams;
Where tapestry clothes the storied wall,
And fountains spout and waters fall;
The peasant faints beneath his load,
Nor tastes the grain his hands have sowed,
While scarce a nation’s wealth avails
To raise thy Baby-house, Versailles.
And Baby-houses oft appear
On British ground, of prince or peer;
Awhile their stately heads they raise,
The’ admiring traveller stops to gaze;
He looks again—where are they now?
Gone to the hammer or the plough:
Then trees, the pride of ages, fall,
And naked stands the pictured wall;
And treasured coins from distant lands
Must feel the touch of sordid hands;
And gems, of classic stores the boast,
Fall to the cry of—Who bids most?
Then do not, Agatha, repine
That cheaper Baby-house is thine.

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