Poems to Family Members

1. A Mother’s Address to a Child.

Fain, O my babe, I’d have thee know

The God whom angels love;

And teach thee feeble strains below,

Akin to theirs above.

O! when thy lisping tongue shall read

Of truths divinely sweet;

May’st thou, “a little child” indeed,

Sit down at Jesus’ feet!

I’ll move thine ear, I’ll point thine eye;

But, Oh, the inward part! 10

Great God the Spirit, hear the sigh

That trembles through my heart!

Break, with thy moral beam benign,

O’er all the mental wild,

Bright on the human chaos shine,

And sanctify my child!


2. Sonnet.

Addressed to her Children in Infancy and Absence, By a Mother

To the soft shelter where ye smile,

Ye tender, blooming things!

Tho’ parted from your sight awhile,

My fond idea clings.

As when ye trace with sportive feet,

Some garden gay with flowers;

Your dreams are roses; and their sweet

Embalms your sleeping hours.

So in bright visions of the mind,

Your infant grace I view; 10

But wake – with every ruder wind,

Which blows perchance on you.

Spirit of life! I cry, my flowers pervade,

Nor let them perish– tho’ they bloom to fade.

3. From Jane to Philip [Saffery's eldest daughter and son] in answer to a letter congratulating her on her birth-day, written just after the death of Edwin Saffery – composed by M. G. S. for Jane.

Dear Philip,

In your poor little sister just learning to write,

It may seem rather bold to presume to indite;

Indeed I’m half-frighten’d at seeming so vain,

Tho’ your proverb I know is “as saucy as Jane.

Well, I think I must venture, be this as it may,

For my heart is quite full of the things I’ve to say;

Besides there’s your letter, not answered as yet,

Its many good wishes – I took it so kind

In such a dear brother to bear me in mind.

I had not as usual my show of green bowr’s, 10

My shepherdess dress, and my garland of flowers,

For our hearts were too sad for so sportive a play,

And our Clothes were too mournful for colours so gay.

And Mamma said she could not have looked at the bower

Without missing the sight of that sweet little flower

That faded and never would blossom again

Tho’ the violets rebloom with the sunshine and rain.

We knew it was Edwin she meant by the flower,

For he sat the last birthday and peeped thro’ the bower;

And you, my dear Philip, I’m sure will agree 20

That no blossom of spring was so lovely as he.

Well now as the holidays nearly draw near

And I’ve much more to say than can be said here,

And my head and my fingers quite ache as I write,

And ’tis time I had wished all the people good night.

I will only just stay while I thank you again,

And proudly subscribe myself Yours,

Little Jane


4. To Jane Saffery in London, from her mother, June 1814.

Tho’ my sweet little Lassie steps forth çà et là

In the crowd like a sprite in its train,

She’ll welcome a line from her country Mamma,

Who resides on the edge of a plain.

Yet what can I say to my minikin friend,

Who has taken her station in Town

But hope that her footsteps may hitherward tend,

When the people of fashion come down.

Of my journey homeward I’ve only to say,

That I closed it in safety at last; 10

That I rode in the dust of a very fine day,

And saw little else as I past.

Since then the fresh fields have delighted my eye,

I breathe all their fragrance again;

Ev’ry breeze with the balm of a rose passes by,

I would it might blow on my Jane.

Return then my fairy, all tender and wild,

As when first I allowed thee to roam;

I thrusted thee forth as simplicity’s Child,

And she never abandons her home. 20

The boys are all well and as saucy and gay

As may suit these beginnings of Man;

I must mention their love in the very best way,

With a kiss from the dear Marianne.

She is with me at Bratton, to take a first sight

Of a gentleman Cousin who came,

To lead up the dance on a festival night;

I really can’t tell you his name.*

Your Papa sends a smile that is softened to tears,

For his dear little daughter in Town, 30

O never I trust will a folly of hers,

Exchange such a smile for a frown!

Adieu! I have just the old truth to impart,

I suppose I may tell it again,

That I am, by the throb and the glow at my heart

The very fond Mother of Jane.

Maria Grace Saffery

P. S. Each kind salutation of friendship and love

I may trust your discretion to carry.

A kiss will the message explain or improve 40

To Tom and the sweet tempered Harry.

Dear love to Aunt Betty, she’ll pardon I know,

A remembrance that prattles in Rhyme.

The meaning I trust, like the debt that I owe

Is tender, and grave, and sublime.

*A very few hours before his birth your dear Aunt was superintending a sort of Arcadian festival in honour of the peace, provided for about five hundred villagers – She is getting quite well. [Saffery's note.]

5. To Little Jane, without a garland, on her cold birthday, May 1st 1817.

Ah, this is not the land of flowers,

The blast is on thy vernal bowers,

But there’s a sky that never lowers;

A brighter sky, my Jane.

And this is not the land of smiles,

The tear-drop even thine beguiles,

But there’s a land it ne’er defiles;

A better land, my Jane.

And this is not the land of song,

My harp of joy has slumbered long, 10

But there’s a lyre more sweet and strong;

A living lyre, my Jane.

The balm of flowers that ne’er decay,

The light of smiles that ever play,

The song that never dies away,

Betide thee, O my Jane.

6. Written in my Sister’s Album, March 1823.

Sacred to Friendship, may this little book

In after-days the memory of those

Recal, who, as life’s varied scenes arose,

Shared in your joys or of your griefs partook.

Then will it be a source of joy to look

On each memorial they have left behind,

To trace the features of each kindred mind,

In fancy hear the while that voice which spoke

In kindest, sweetest accents once to you,

Which soothed, instructed, or consoled, or gave 10

The friendly admonition, kind and true.

Yes – they shall speak e’en then, and from the grave

Shall bid you hope in heaven’s eternal day

To meet – to live – when earth and time have passed away!

7. To Jane Saffery, on her birthday, May 1st, 1825, a few weeks after the death of her Father.

Time was, I brought thee birth-day flow’rs,

Thyself, the gayest flow’r that smiled;

If stealing near thy vernal bow’rs,

Thy Father came to bless his Child.

Ah! Thou art in the Desert now,

And he is in the land of Rest.

The flow’r would languish on thy brow,

Or mourn to gird thy sable vest.

But sweeter than the gales of May

The farewell of his fainting breath, 10

The blessing of that parting day,

That trembled thro’ the tones of death.

On thee, it fell, with mingling flow,

The father’s, and the prophet’s, love,

As tender as his tear below,

And holy as his smile above.

Nor lovelier guerdon canst thou crave,

Than with thy Mother’s sigh is given;

A garland gathered from this grave,

With balm, and blessedness, from heaven. 20

8. To Jane, May 1st, 1828.

The “gentle gales” shall fan thy brow,

And summer’s vestal wreath shall twine

Till Nature like a lover’s vow

Shall breathe upon that life of thine.

Yes blond and beautiful with bliss

Her frolic airs shall round thee play,

And light and soft as childhood’s kiss

Shall steal thy pensive thoughts away.

Nor cold upon thy dewy bow’r

Shall fall thy mother’s wintry tear; 10

The joy that gilds thy vernal hour

Is Spring-light to her faded year.

For deep within that lone recess,

Where dwells each tender thought of thee,

I find thy gentle pow’r to bless,

And feel the joy of blessing thee.

9. To my only Sister on her Birthday, 23 June 1837.

Still wakes the heart – then wherefore sleeps the Lyre

Or wherefore are the numbers faint and low?

Say can the light of Love more feebly glow

Or like the twilight tints of Eve expire

Ere yet the visions of the past retire?

There is no sunset hour to friendship given

Her dawning is on Earth, her noon in Heaven,

All quenchless is her pure immortal fire.

Then by the Mem’ries of our infant home,

Our youthful gladness and our early tears, 10

The minstrel spirit round thy path shall roam

And sing sweet welcome to thy pilgrim years,

Long be thy lot below like that above

The heritage of those that dwell in Love.


10. To little Anna Jane – one year old – March 12th ’39.

And would I if I might with tuneful wile

Impose life’s pensive vision on thy heart,

And bid thy glad unconsciousness depart

To tell thee of a world whose joys defile?

No – Thou canst taste the bliss without the grief,

Then Sun thee in thy Mother’s own sweet smile,

While sounds more soft then hush the nursling dove,

Compose thine infant paradise of Love.

And when thine eyes must read the desert true,

And watch the windings of the weary land; 10

May blessings fall around thee like the Dew,

The treasures of thy heavenly Father’s hand,

To cheer thy life-long journey in the wild,

And mark thee for his own his pilgrim Child.

11. Sonnet for the birthday of the Beloved Samuel Saffery – Lord’s Day, February 21st, 1841.

For thee with all thy cares beloved One

Within the home, within the Temple gates,

For thee, – before Jehovah’s Altar waits,

Thy prayerful Mother, for her pilgrim Son

Can faithful love that post of promise shun?

There hope sheds sweetness like meek nature’s smile

When early Spring light in thy native Isle

Heralds o’er wintry plains the summer sun.

O may thy birthday with its Sabbath psalm,

Meet prelude for thy future life bestow, 10

Giving sure earnest of its holy calm,

Through many a year of blessedness below,

And Love Omnipotent; in thee fulfil

Its mandate on the wave, of – “Peace be still.”

M. G. S.

12. Dedicatory to a beloved and only Sister.

A friend loveth at all times Ps. 17.17

Thou wert my Childhood’s gentle friend,

The partner of my infant sigh,

And thought must fail a charm to lend

Ere I forget the tender tie.

Thou wert the Muse within my bower

When first the simple lyre I strung,

Companion of my youthful hour

What time of sacred lore I sung.

And when no longer side by side

Our pilgrim path on earth we trod,

No change could hearts like ours divide

We had one faith – one hope – one goal.

Along the wild – through Sun or shade

Our friendship hath not pass’d away –

It was not formed of things that fade

The garland of a Summer’s day.

Amid the Storms of life secured

Still burns the mild immortal flame;

Through all enjoyed – through all endured,

Sister! I find thee still the same.

Then since in Childhood’s sportive days

I called my heart and lyre thine own,

To thee I dedicate the lays

Of ampler thought and deeper tone.

And as untouched by Time or Tears

Our friendship has not suffered wrong,

The whispers of departed years

Shall breathe like Music through the song.


1. Evangelical Magazine, 17 (1809), p. 567; MS, Attwater Papers, acc. 76, II.A.2, p. 23, titled "Addressed to an Infant child," unsigned. The subject is most likely Saffery’s second son, William Carey (named after the famous Baptist missionary), born in September 1803. This poem also appeared in the Theological and Biblical Magazine 4 (1804), p. 279, titled "Address to a Child," signed "S.," and in A Selection of Hymns (London: Printed for the Proprietors, for J. Haddon, 1828), hymn 528; see also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 90-91.

2. Baptist Magazine, 2 (October 1810), p. 540, under the title ‘Sonnet. Addressed to children in Infancy and absence, By a Mother’; MS, Box 17/3, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford, titled "Sonnet, To all my dear little Children," in three quatrains and couplet, with the following note dated 4 July 1810, from Bratton: "Your dear Father will explain the sentiment which is conveyed to you in the language of poetry, and which flowed from the heart of | your tender anxious Mother | Maria Grace Saffery"; on the back of the folium is written, in Saffery’s hand, "For, The dear Children." Another copy also in Box 22/1, Reeves Collection, titled "A Sonnet addressed to her Children, in Infancy and Absence," with no ending punctuation except for line 14; another manuscript copy can be found on a loose folium placed inside the back cover of Lyra Domestica, Box 25/1, Reeves Collection, signed ‘M.G.S.’ See also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 94-95.

3. Box 22/1, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; see also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 105-06. Edwin Saffery died in March 1814, so the date of the poem would be early May 1814 (Jane’s birthday was 1 May).

4. Copy-text taken from a fair copy of the poem which was sent as a letter to Jane Saffery from her mother, Bratton Farm, 16 July 1814, in Saffery/Attwater Papers, acc. 142, I.B.5.a.(1.). Address: Miss Mason | (70) High Holborn | London | For Miss Jane Saffery. Postmark: Westbury, no date; another copy of the poem resides in Box 22/1, Reeves Collection, titled "To Jane Saffery in London, from her Mamma, Bratton Farm, Salisbury Plain, June 1814." See also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 106-07. Jane was nine years old at the time.

5. Copy-text from Box 17/3, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; another manuscript version of the poem can be found in the Box 22/1, Reeves Collection, signed "M.G.S.," with no variants other than punctuation and the title, "To Jane, on her cold Birthday 1 May 1817." See also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 110-11. This was Jane Saffery’s 12th birthday.

6. Box 22/1, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 112.

7. Box 17/3, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 116.

8. Box 27/1, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 116-17.

9. Lyra Domestica, Box 25/1, fol. 19r, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 213. Anne Whitaker was celebrating her 63rd birthday.

10. Box 17/3, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 229.

11. Box 17/3, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 230. Samuel Saffery was celebrating his 34th birthday.

12. Lyra Domestica, Box 25/1, fol. 18-19, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 235-36.