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Poem by Anna Laetitia Barbauld

In the Manner of Spenser

So long estranged from every Muse's lyre,
And groveling in the tangled net of Care;
What powerful breath shall kindle up that fire
Smothered with damps of most unkindly air?
Ah, how is quenched the lamp that burnt so fair!
Come, sweet seducers, late too far away,
Once more to my deserted cell repair;
Your rebel courts again your gentle sway;Ч
Come, soothe the winter's night, and charm the summer's day.

Come, dear companions of my youthful hour,
Fill my fond breast with your majestic themes;
Meet me again on hill, by stream, or bower,
And bathe my fancy in the bliss of dreams.
Vain wish! no more the star of Fancy gleams;
They with becoming scorn reject thy prayer:
Nor will they haunt thy bower, or bless thy streams,
No more to thy deserted cell repair:Ч
УGo, court the world,Ф they cry, Уthou art not worth our care.Ф
Bustle and hurry, noise and thrall they hate,
And plodding Method with her leaden rule;
And all that swells the' unwieldy pomp of state,
And all that binds to earth the golden fool;
And creeping Labour with his patient tool:
Free like the birds they wander unconfined,
Nor dip their wings in Lucre's muddy pool;
Business they hate, in crowded nook enshrined,
That spins her dirty web, and clouds the' ethereal mind.

Ah, why should man, in hard unsocial strife,
And withering care whose vigils never cease,
Fretting away this little thread of life,
Of his sad birthright reap such large increase!
Why should he toil for aught but bread and peace?
Why rear to heaven his clay-built pyramids?
Nor from his tasks himself, poor slave! release;
With anxious thought, which wholesome rest forbids,
Drying the balm of sleep from sorrow's swollen lids.
Despising cheap delights, he loves to scoop
His marble palace from the rock's hard breast,
And in close dungeon walls himself to coop,
On golden couches wooing pale unrest;
With foreign looms his stately halls are drest,
And grim-wrought tapestry clothes the darkened room;
While in the flowery vale Peace builds her nest,
Amidst the purple heath or yellow broom,
Or where midst rustling corn the nodding poppies bloom. 

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Poem Theme: Edmund Spenser

Anna Laetitia Barbauld's other poems:
  1. Song 5 (AS near a weeping spring reclin'd)
  2. Song 6 (WHEN first upon your tender cheek)
  3. To Mr. [S.T.] C[oleridge]
  4. The Origin of Song-Writing
  5. Hymn 5 (AWAKE, my soul! lift up thine eyes)

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Samuel Coleridge In the Manner of Spenser ("O peace, that on a lilied bank dost love")

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