Verses on Mrs. Rowe

How from the summit of the grove she fell,

And left it unharmonious -----------


Such were the notes our chaster Sappho sung,

And every Muse drop’d honey on her tongue.

Blest shade! How pure a breath of praise was thine,

Whose spotless life was faultless as thy line:

In whom each worth and every grace conspire,

The christian’s meekness and the poet’s fire.

Learn’d without pride, a woman without art;

The sweetest manners and the gentlest heart.

Smooth like her verse her passions learn’d to move,

And her whole soul was harmony and love. [103]

Virtue that breast without a conflict gain’d,

And easy, like a native monarch reign’d.

On earth still favour’d as by Heaven approv’d,

The world applauded, and Alexis lov’d.

With love, with health, with fame, and friendship blest,

And of a chearful heart the constant feast,

What more of bliss sincere could earth bestow?

What purer heaven could angels taste below?

But bliss from earth’s vain scenes too quickly flies;

The golden cord is broke – Alexis dies.

Now in the leafy shade, and widow’d grove,

Sad Philomela mourns her absent love.

Now deep retir’d in Frome’s enchanting vale,

She pours her tuneful sorrows on the gale;

Without one fond reserve the world disclaims,

And gives up all her soul to heavenly flames.

Yet in no useless glooms she wore her days;

She lov’d the work, and only shun’d the praise. [104]

Her pious hand the poor, the mourner blest;

Her image liv’d in every kindred breast.

Thynn, Carteret, Blackmore, Orrery approv’d,

And Prior prais’d, and noble Hertford lov’d;

Seraphic Kenn, and tuneful Watts were thine,

And virtue’s noblest champions fill’d the line.

Blest in thy friendships! in thy death too blest!

Receiv’d without a pang to endless rest.

Heaven call’d the faint matur’d by length of days,

And her pure spirit was exhal’d in praise.

Bright pattern of thy sex, be thou my Muse;

Thy gentle sweetness thro’ my soul diffuse:

Let me thy palm, tho’ not thy laurel share,

And copy thee in charity and prayer.

Tho’ for the bard my lines are far too faint,

Yet in my life let me transcribe the saint.

Text: Poems by Anna Laetitia Barbauld. New Ed. (London: Printed for Joseph Johnson, St. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1792), pp. 102-04.