1765 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Evander to Emillia.

Poetical Works of Anna Seward; with Extracts from her Correspondence. 3 Vols [Sir Walter Scott, ed.]

Anna Seward


Six irregular Spenserians (ababccdD), juvenilia by Anna Seward, the Swan of Lichfield. The poem is part of a narrative series written in several kinds of stanza, the elegiac predominating. Walter Scott suggests a comparison with the story of Abelard and Eloisa, though a more immediate source of inspiration might have been Rousseau's Nouvelle Heloise (1761).

Walter Scott: "These little poems were written in the early youth of the author. They describe an attachment between a lady of birth, rank, beauty, and talents, the daughter of wealthy parents, and a gentleman, much her inferior in family and station, without fortune, and her equal only in intellect, merit, and affection. Nor is the situation entirely imaginary; the author was entrusted with the perusal of a prose correspondence between that unhappy pair, which bore the same sort of relation to the ensuing poems, as the real letters between Abelard and Eloisa bear to Pope's Love-Epistle, 'Eloisa to Abelard'" Seward, Poetical Works (1810) 1:25n.

W. Davenport Adams: "Anna Seward, poetess (b. 1747, d. 1809), wrote Louisa (1782), The Visions, and various other works, published, with a biographical sketch, by Sir Walter Scott, in 1810. Her Letters were printed by Constable in 1811" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 564.



'Tis o'er! — the bright star like a meteor fire,
An instant shone, then vanish'd from our sight!
Fierce, in unbaffled rule, paternal ire
Quenches its beams in everlasting night.
With guardian care a dying mother strove
To shield from penury resistless love;
But that kind care a father's proud disdain
Meets with derision's smile, and sternly proves it vain.

O! pitiless of spirit! — but away,
Ye weak complaints, ye unavailing groans!
Now, stung by Disappointment's madd'ning sway,
Scruples, and fears, my desperate love disowns.
Oft did they wound thee; — I abjure their crimes!
Extinct all hope of more propitious times,
Long years of wasted youth elapsed I see,
And former terrors curse — e'en tho' they throbb'd for thee.

Her hovering ghost, whose violated boon
Sought from the scourge of power our loves to save,
Shall see us meet, — now, — in this night's pale noon,
And lock our hands across her sacred grave.
There thy decisive vows my soul shall claim;
By the last silence of her mouldering frame,
By Death's dark shrines and unresisted power,
That only his dread stroke shall e'er divide us more.

Still can EMILLIA's heart, like mine, desire?
Then Fate in vain may spread her direst loom;
Nor yet, if Persecution light her pyre,
Shall its fierce flames our destin'd joys consume.
A robe of pure asbestos we can wear,
And while the raging fires around us glare,
With arms entwined our solemn steps shall move,
Safe in the shielding garb, supplied by faithful love.

All that affrights the prosperous and the vain,
Reproach, with taunting lip, and scornful brow,
And shuddering penury, and fever'd pain,
To blast the powers of life, the spirit bow;
The bed of death, the dim funereal gloom,
A timeless pall, an unlamented doom,
Clasp'd in each other's arms, he firmly scorn'd,
Nor ought of wealth and pride, for love renounced, be mourn'd!

Then shall I gaze on my EMILLIA's form
Through the long summer's day and winter's night;
Her smile my sun, her frown my only storm,
Her health and love, my sources of delight;
Her grave, my quiet bed of lasting rest,
Where power, and hate, no longer shall molest,
Reproach and penury no more dismay,
While undivided sleeps our earthly-hapless clay.

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