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'Give me a cottage on some Cambrian wild'

'Give me a cottage on some Cambrian wild'

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A CENTURY OF SONNETS



109



I'll raise my pillow on the desert shore,

And lay me down to rest where the wild wave

Shall make sweet music o'er my lonely grave.

(1803)

197. The Winter Traveler

God help thee, Traveler, on thy journey far;

The wind is bitter keen,—the snow o'erlays

The hidden pits, and dangerous hollow-ways,

And darkness will involve thee.—No kind star

To-night will guide thee, Traveler,—and the war

Of winds and elements, on thy head will break,

And in thy agonizing ear the shriek,

Of spirits howling on their stormy car,

Will often ring appalling—I portend

A dismal night—and on my wakeful bed

Thoughts, Traveler, of thee, will fill my head,

And him, who rides where winds and waves contend,

And strives, rude cradled on the seas, to guide

His lonely bark through the tempestuous tide.

(1803)



Mrs. B. Finch

(fl. 1805)

Finch's 126-page book, Sonnets, and Other Poems: To Which are Added Tales in

Prose, was published in London in 1805 by Blacks and Parry. Its contents

suggest that she was born in the country, wrote from a place called "Duncroft

Cottage," was the mother of at least one son, and was interested in botany.

However, her first name, along with other biographical details, is now obscure.

198. Written in a Shrubbery Towards the Decline of Autumn

See, o'er its withering leaves, the musk-rose bend,

And scarce a purple aster paints the glade;

Yet, cease awhile, ye ruffling winds! to rend

This variegated canopy of shade.

Here, autumn's touch the rich dark brown bestows,

There, mixed with paler leaves of yellow hue,

The shining holly's scarlet fruitage glows,

And crimson berries stud the deep-green yew.

Thou radiant orb! whose mild declining ray

Now gilds with gayer tinge this loved retreat,

Yet, lingering, still prolong the golden day.—

How vain the wish! no more thy glories meet



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A CENTURY OF SONNETS



My dazzled eye; but from the lakes arise

Blue mists, and twilight gray involves the blushing skies.

(1805)

199. Written in a Winter's Morning

Though storms and tempests mark thy gloomy reign,

Stern winter! still the poet's eye shall find

Full many a charm to linger in thy train—

Spread round thy frozen panoply of snow;

In icy chains, each brook and streamlet bind;

Still unappalled the Christmas rose shall blow,

And beauteous crocuses their golden bloom

Disclose, ere yet thy ruthless reign be past;

And bright mezereon breathe its faint perfume,

Amid the rigors of thy northern blast:

Whilst on the leafless lime pale mistletoe

Its wax-like berries hangs, and green of sickly cast.

And the sweet redbreast, from his laurel bower,

Warbles his vespers clear, at twilight's sober hour.

(1805)



Anna Maria Smallpiece

(fl. 1805)

Joseph Johnson, the radical publisher of books by Maria Edgeworth, Anna

Letitia Barbauld, and Mary Wollstonecraft, brought out Anna Maria Smallpiece's 182-page volume Original Sonnets, and Other Small Poems in 1805.

She spent her childhood in Woburn, Bedfordshire and traveled to Cornwall,

London, Devonshire, and abroad, but little else is known about her.

200. Written in III Health

Ah! what avails, when sinking down to sleep,

That silken curtains shade the languid eye?

On beds of down how many wake to weep,

And break the calm of night with sorrow's sigh!

O! then, thou poor, ne'er at thy lot repine,

If o'er thy straw-stuffed bed no trappings play;

More pure thy sleep, and calmer dreams are thine,

Than those who waste in luxury their day.

If o'er thy cheek the loose-zoned goddess, Health,

With coral finger, spread her rosy hues,

Far art thou blessed, beyond the joys of wealth,

And all the joys the busy crowd pursues.

Nor more would I at little ills repine,

Were her full eye, and sparkling luster mine.

(1805)



A CENTURY OF SONNETS



111



201. 'The veil's removed, the gaudy, flimsy veil'

The veil's removed, the gaudy, flimsy veil,

That shrouded thy false heart, and now I see,

With friendship pure, it never beat for me.

Fool! that I was, to listen to the tale.

Well, be it so—this pleasure must prevail,

Though at thy falsehood much my heart has grieved,

Thou canst not say, I e'er thy hopes deceived.

This still my solace; should all others fail,

What now remains of life I will employ

In bliss less fragile; Nature's charms sublime,

Her hills and woodlands wild, reechoing joy,

Her blushing spring, and summer's flowery prime,

Though winter for awhile her sweets destroy,

They still return, on wings of faithful time.

(1805)



William Wordsworth

(1770-1850)

Over the course of roughly fifty years, Wordsworth wrote well over 500

sonnets. His first published poem was a sonnet and his sonnet sequence The

River Duddon was among the most successful and admired works he ever

published. Many of his best sonnets appeared in Poems, In Two Volumes (1807).

While Wordsworth evidently admired the sonnets of Charlotte Smith, Anna

Seward, and Helen Maria Williams, his poetic allegiance lay most strongly

with Milton. Wordsworth's prodigious output of sonnets demonstrates a remarkable variety of subjects and concerns, ranging from the political to the

personal to the philosophical to the topographical. He succeeded Robert

Southey as poet laureate in 1843.



202. On Seeing Miss Helen Maria Williams Weep at a Tale of Distress

She wept—Life's purple tide began to flow

In languid streams through every thrilling vein;

Dim were my swimming eyes—my pulse beat slow,

And my full heart was swelled to dear delicious pain.

Life left my loaded heart, and closing eye;

A sigh recalled the wand'rer to my breast;

Dear was the pulse of life, and dear the sigh

That called the wand'rer home, and home to rest.

That tear proclaims—in thee each virtue dwells,

And bright will shine in misery's midnight hour;

As the soft star of dewy evening tells

What radiant fires were drowned by day's malignant power



112



A CENTURY OF SONNETS



That only wait the darkness of the night

To cheer the wand'ring wretch with hospitable light.

(1787)



203. 1801

I grieved for Buonaparte, with a vain

And an unthinking grief! the vital blood

Of that man's mind—what can it be? What food

Fed his first hopes? What knowledge could he gain?

'Tis not in battles that from youth we train

The Governor who must be wise and good,

And temper with the sternness of the brain

Thoughts motherly, and meek as womanhood.

Wisdom doth live with children round her knees:

Books, leisure, perfect freedom, and the talk

Man holds with week-day man in the hourly walk

Of the mind's business: these are the degrees

By which true Sway doth mount; this is the stalk

True Power doth grow on; and her rights are these.

(1802)

204. '"With how sad steps, O Moon thou dimb'st the sky"'

"With how sad steps, O Moon thou climb'st the sky,

How silently, and with how wan a face!"

Where art thou? Thou whom I have seen on high

Running among the clouds a wood-nymph's race?

Unhappy nuns, whose common breath's a sigh

Which they would stifle, move at such a pace!

The Northern Wind, to call thee to the chase,

Must blow tonight his bugle horn. Had I

The power of Merlin, Goddess! this should be:

And all the stars, now shrouded up in heaven,

Should sally forth to keep thee company.

What strife would then be yours, fair creatures, driv'n

Now up, now down, and sparkling in your glee!

But, Cynthia, should to thee the palm be giv'n,

Queen both for beauty and for majesty.

(1807)

205. 'Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room'

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room;

And hermits are contented with their cells;

And students with their pensive citadels;

Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,



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