Anna Seward (1747-1809)

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Autumn Leaves

Behold that tree in autumn's dim decay,
Stripped by the frequent chill and eddying wind;
Where yet some yellow lonely leaves we find
Lingering and trembling on the naked spray,
Twenty, perchance, for millions whirled away!
Emblem--alas too just!--of human kind:
Vain man expects longevity, designed
For few indeed; and their protracted day--

What is it worth that wisdom does not scorn?
The blasts of sickness, care, and grief appal,
That laid the friends in dust, whose natal morn
Rose near their own!--and solemn is the call;
Yet, like those weak, deserted leaves forlorn,
Shivering they cling to life and fear to fall.

To Mr. Henry Cary, on the Publication of His Sonnets

Praised be the poet who the sonnet's claim,
Severest of the orders that belong
Distinct and separate to the Delphic song,
Shall venerate, nor its appropriate name
Lawless assume. Peculiar is its frame
From him derived who shunned the city throng
And warbled sweet thy rocks and streams among,
Lonely Valclusa!--
                             and that heir of fame,
Our greater Milton, hath by many a lay
Formed on that arduous model, fully shown
The English verse may happily display
Those strict energic measures, which alone
Deserve the name of sonnet, and convey
A grandeur, grace, and spirit all their own.

On a Lock of Miss Sarah Seward's Hair, Who Died in Her Twentieth Year

My angel sister, though thy lovely form
Perished in youth's gay morning, yet is mine
This precious ringlet!--still the soft hairs shine,
Still glow the nut-brown tints, all bright and warm
With sunny gleam!--Alas! each kindred charm
Vanished long since; deep in the silent shrine
Withered to shapeless dust!--and of their grace
Memory alone retains the faithful trace.--

Dear lock! had thy sweet owner lived, ere now
Time on her brow had faded thee!--My care
Screened from the sun and dew thy golden glow;
And thus her early beauty dost thou wear,
Thou all of that fair frame my love could save
From the resistless ravage of the grave!