A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Maniac's Song." by Ann Taylor (1782-1866)
From The Taylors of Ongar by Doris Mary Armitage, Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd. , 1939. p. 207-208.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


Bring me a garland, bring me a wreath;
  Bring me a flower from the dank stream side;
Bring me a herb smelling sweetly of death,
  Wet with the drowsy tide.

Haste to the pool with the green-weed breast,
  Where the dark wave crawls through the sedge;
Where the bittern of the wilderness builds her nest,
  In the flags of its oozy edge;

[Page 208]

Where no sun shines through the live-long day,
  Because of the blue-wreathed mist,
Where the cockatrice creeps her foul egg to lay,
  And the speckled snake has hissed:

And bring me the flag that is moist with the wave,
  And the rush where the heath-winds sigh,
And the hemlock plant, that flourishes so brave,
  And the poppy, with its coal-black eye;

And weave them tightly, and weave them well,
  The fever of my head to allay;–
And soon shall I faint with the death-weed smell,
  And sleep these throbbings away.

And my hot, hot heart, that is fluttering so fast,
  Shall shudder with a strange, cold thrill;
And the damp hand of Death o'er my forehead shall be passed,
  And my lips shall be stiff and still.

And crystals of ice on my bosom shall arise,
  Prest out from the shivering pore;
And oft shall it struggle with pent-up sighs,
  But soon it shall struggle no more.

For the poppy on my head shall her cool breath shed,
  And wind through the blue, blue tide;
And the bony wand of Death shall draw my last breath,
  All by the dark stream side.

July, 1808.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom