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Short poem

Anna Lætitia Barbauld (1743-1825)

Dirge: Written November 1808

              1Pure spirit! O where art thou now!
              2     O whisper to my soul!
              3O let some soothing thought of thee,
              4     The bitter grief control!

              5'Tis not for thee the tears I shed,
              6     Thy sufferings now are o'er;
              7The sea is calm, the tempest past,
              8     On that eternal shore.

              9No more the storms that wrecked thy peace
            10     Shall tear that gentle breast;
            11Nor Summer's rage, nor Winter's cold,
            12     Thy poor, poor frame molest.

            13Thy peace is sealed, thy rest is sure,
            14     My sorrows are to come;
            15Awhile I weep and linger here,
            16     Then follow to the tomb.

            17And is the awful veil withdrawn,
            18     That shrouds from mortal eyes,
            19In deep impenetrable gloom,
            20     The secrets of the skies?

            21O, in some dream of visioned bliss,
            22     Some trance of rapture, show
            23Where, on the bosom of thy God,
            24     Thou rest'st from human woe!

            25Thence may thy pure devotion's flame
            26     On me, on me descend;
            27To me thy strong aspiring hopes,
            28     They faith, thy fervours lend.

            29Let these my lonely path illume,
            30     And teach my weakened mind
            31To welcome all that's left of good,
            32     To all that's lost resigned.

            33Farewell! With honour, peace, and love,
            34     Be thy dear memory blest!
            35Thou hast no tears for me to shed,
            36     When I too am at rest.


1] On the suicide of her mentally ill husband Rochemont, having been institutionized for violent behaviour to Anna.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Works of Anna Lætitia Barbauld, Volume I (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster-Row, 1825), pp. 224-25. PR 4057 B7 1825 v.1 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1825
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/18

Composition date: November 1808
Form: Common Measure
Rhyme: abcb

Other poems by Anna Lætitia Barbauld