A Celebration of Women Writers

"Dirge." by Anna Lætitia Barbauld (1743 - 1825)

First Publication: The Works of Anna Lætitia Barbauld, with a Memoir by Lucy Aikin. London: Longman, 1825. I:224-226.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


Written November 1808.

Pure spirit! O where art thou now!
  O whisper to my soul!
O let some soothing thought of thee,
  This bitter grief controul!

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

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

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

And is the awful veil withdrawn,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

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

Thence may thy pure devotion's flame
  On me, on me descend;
To me thy strong aspiring hopes,
  Thy faith, thy fervours lend.

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

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

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom