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Short poem

Anna Lætitia Barbauld (1743-1825)

To a Little Invisible Being Who is Expected Soon to Become Visible

              1Germ of new life, whose powers expanding slow
              2For many a moon their full perfection wait,--
              3Haste, precious pledge of happy love, to go
              4Auspicious borne through life's mysterious gate.

              5What powers lie folded in thy curious frame,--
              6Senses from objects locked, and mind from thought!
              7How little canst thou guess thy lofty claim
              8To grasp at all the worlds the Almighty wrought!

              9And see, the genial season's warmth to share,
            10Fresh younglings shoot, and opening roses glow!
            11Swarms of new life exulting fill the air,--
            12Haste, infant bud of being, haste to blow!

            13For thee the nurse prepares her lulling songs,
            14The eager matrons count the lingering day;
            15But far the most thy anxious parent longs
            16On thy soft cheek a mother's kiss to lay.

            17She only asks to lay her burden down,
            18That her glad arms that burden may resume;
            19And nature's sharpest pangs her wishes crown,
            20That free thee living from thy living tomb.

            21She longs to fold to her maternal breast
            22Part of herself, yet to herself unknown;
            23To see and to salute the stranger guest,
            24Fed with her life through many a tedious moon.

            25Come, reap thy rich inheritance of love!
            26Bask in the fondness of a Mother's eye!
            27Nor wit nor eloquence her heart shall move
            28Like the first accents of thy feeble cry.

            29Haste, little captive, burst thy prison doors!
            30Launch on the living world, and spring to light!
            31Nature for thee displays her various stores,
            32Opens her thousand inlets of delight.

            33If charmed verse or muttered prayers had power,
            34With favouring spells to speed thee on thy way,
            35Anxious I'd bid my beads each passing hour,
            36Till thy wished smile thy mother's pangs o'erpay.


35] bid my beads: count the beads on the rosary as she says repeats a prayer.

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. 199-201. PR 4057 B7 1825 v.1. Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1825
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/18

Composition date: 1795
Form: Sicillian Quatrains
Rhyme: abab

Other poems by Anna Lætitia Barbauld