Occasional Poems

1. On the Death of Miss S – , at five years of age, who gave remarkable Evidences of a Divine Change.

Whence did those sounds of sacred courage flow,

What time the monster’s gloomy form was seen;

Who dar’d his arm to strike the mortal blow,

Who brav’d his terrors with that glance serene?

Some hero, born on Faith’s triumphal car,

Long us’d in arms of heavenly grace to shine;

Some silver vet’ran long inur’d to war,

Some hoary champion in the cause divine?

Ah! no; prepare the tender brow to wreath,

Behold a babe the faith of Jesus prove; 10

From dying lips its holy triumphs breathe,

In accents sweet as infancy and love.

Ere from the frail abode of Nature fled,

Expos’d to conflict with expiring clay;

His arm the Captain of Salvation spread,

To shield the tender warrior from dismay.

But now no more oppress’d, subdu’d by pain,

That form shall labour with the voice of praise;

Nor the freed soul of languid powers complain,

Where harps of extacy her song shall raise. 20

Are there who weep? yes, Nature will be heard,

Where Reason triumphs, and where Faith adores;

And be her claim, her honest claim rever’d,

While the soft eye the copious tribute pours.

But, oh! forbear, nor let the gushing tear

Proclaim the faithless sorrows of the heart;

See Death abash’d, his gloomy horrors wear,

A cradled victor, smiling at the dart.


2. On Peace.

Ah! more benign than morning’s azure sky,

Late from the wrath of midnight tempest freed,

Than tear-drops streaming from compassion’s eye,

When at her feet the sons of sorrow bleed.

Yes, more benign, more sweet, the balmy breath,

Diffusive wafted from Britannia’s isle;

That calls her children from the fields of death,

To her own vales, that cloth’d with plenty smile.

’Twas he that bids the rage of battle cease,

In her deep wound the healing mercy pour’d;

And with the breath of everlasting peace,

Hush’d the wild waves of discord as they roar’d.

Oct. 1, 1801


3. To a Friend with a Roasting Pig.

For embassies of civil state

Men seek the politic and great

(That is if they can find ’em),

Yet these have sadly failed to show

The thing for which in fact they go,

The wit of those behind ’em.

Now you’ll perceive ’tis our design

To make an envoy of a swine,

Politically speaking;

The thing tho’ you’ll perceive is mum,

Yet eloquence is often dumb

While fools and knaves are squeaking.

This our small Messenger would pray

First at your table to convey

Our sense of former bounty,

And then in honour of his race,

To represent with savoury grace

The fellows of his County


4. To the Same Friend with a Turkey during the War with Turkey.

In these days of monopoly, Sir, ’twould be mad

To press the political game;

Not a slice of the continent is to be had,

The Map, Sir, will tell you the same.

Yet what shall this Autocrat make as his sport,

I’ll prove your complaint a mere fable;

I say without stirring a peg for the Port,

That Turkey shall wait at your table.

5. [She “sleeps in Jesus.” Happy thus to rest.]

She “sleeps in Jesus.” Happy thus to rest

Forever from her labours. Prisoned now

No more in mortal clay, her raptured spirit

Shines with immortal beauty in the beam

Of glory uncreated; with the hosts

Of spirits perfected, reflects the rays

Of the great Source of light and life, and sings

In strains ineffable the love of Him

Who died for Sinners. In his purity

Arrayed she stands, and no defiling spot

Can e’er appear, amid that circling radiance.

Sin with its sad companion woe are left

To those who sojourn in this vale of tears;

For the bright tenants of those upper skies

Are “pure in heart” since they have seen their God,

And while they contemplate the blessed vision,

Brighter and brighter still reflect the same.

She “sleeps in Jesus.” ’Tis her spirit lives –

Her mortal part sleeps in the silent tomb

Until the resurrection morn, and then,

United to the spirit, shall arise

With all the dead in Christ, and, clothed anew

In the all-perfect image of the Lord,

Shall be forever with him.

Do we mourn

For her, that here she lingered not? Alas!

We mourn as mortals – here we meet no more.

As Christians we rejoice – we meet again

To hail a blessed, an eternal day.

Life’s day of hope is ours – oh! be it ours

To feel a Saviour’s and a Father’s love,

To live to God, that so we may begin

To live forever.

Yes, she sleeps, but still

Sweetly embalmed in every kindred heart

Her memory shall live; kind, unaffected,

Generous and sincere, she lived; may all

Who love her memory, love her virtues too;

Like her, in duty’s silent humble path

Walk with their God; so shall they all at last

Meet her in peace to hear the approving voice,

“Enter ye faithful into endless joy.”

September 25th 1823

6. A Plea for Infant Schools.

Hast thou the watchful eye that Pity brings

To lowly suffering in its guileless wants,

And the kind wish that her sweet spirit haunts

When frailty to her robe for shelter clings,

And she looks down on this world’s saddest things?

Then turn that watchful eye and tender thought

To Childhood with its pleadings meek and low,

And let the Babes of Poverty, be taught

The blessedness of wealth, without its woe.

Sunlight and dews refresh the herbage wild,

As freely, as the gayest garden flower; )

So freely, let Instruction’s genial shower )

Light on Life’s spring-buds in the Cottage bower, )

And bless the house of every little child.

7. To a Little Babe, buried early on a Beautiful Spring Morning.

“The flower fadeth.” – Is. xi. 8.

Meet time it was, sweet human flower,

To breathe o’er thee love’s parting sigh;

While morn was in her fragrant bower,

With dew-drop in her gentle eye.

Meet time to sigh for thee, fair babe, I say,

If love to bliss should such a tribute pay.

The hue so soft, – and, meekly wild,

So melting was the woodland strain, –

That nature, like a matron mild,

With infant beauty in her train,

Seem’d round thy little grave, intent to bring

The tender graces of the youthful spring.

Nor could one sound or sight of woe,

With lot so blest as thine agree;

If tears must over frailty flow,

Far better weep for her than thee;

For her, whose sweetness may bedeck thy tomb, –

But not, like thine, in God’s fair Eden bloom.

For her, whose flow’rets as they fade,

Or blossom with the changing sky,

Remind us, such as thou wert made

For climes where roses never die.

No tear-drop there stains life’s immortal page,

No death defiles the everlasting age.

8. For July 23rd, 1836.

The first brief year of sunshine and of showers

Has brought thee to the point of thought sublime,

The sweet and solemn resting-place of Time,

Whence he takes counsel of his parted hours;

Oft may this tide revisit thee, in bowers

Pleasant and safe, from which the past looks fair,

Where memory still a spotless wreath may wear,

And Hope be present with her deathless flowers.

As melt the years away, the changeful Now,

Still lost in the great Future, may a gem

Of star-bright glory light Hope’s diadem

For every flower that fades on Memory’s brow,

And all the joys that from thy pathway die

Put on their spirit-robe and rest on high.


1. Baptist Annual Register, 3 (1798-1801 [August 1801]), p. 551; MS, Attwater Papers, acc. 76, II.A.2, p. 6, titled "On the Death of Miss Mary Shoveller, at Five Years of Age – Who gave Remarkable Evidences of a Divine Change," unsigned, with this note by Saffery: "Published in Dr Rippon’s Register No 25 for Augst 1801." See also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. See also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 75-76. John Shoveller was married to Susanna Horsey of Portsmouth, sister to Elizabeth Horsey Saffery, the first wife of John Saffery (she died in 1798).

2. Baptist Annual Register, 4 (1801-02 [November 1801]), p. 672; MS, Attwater Papers, acc. 76, II.A.2, p. 9, titled ‘On the news of Peace Octr 1, 1801’, unsigned, with this note by MGS: "Published in No 28 of the Baptist Register for Novr 1801." See also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 77-78. This poem was also transcribed by Jane Attwater Blatch in her diary for 1801.

3. Box 22/1, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 93.

4. Box 22/1, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 93-94. The Anglo-Turkish war ended with the Peace of the Dardanelles on 5 January 1809, dating this poem sometime between 1806 and 1809.

5. Box 22/1, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 113-14. This poem commemorates the death of Sarah Waylen Whitaker, less than a year after her marriage to Alfred Whitaker.

6. ‘Lyra Domestica’, Box 25/1, f.29r, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 122. At the foot of the page is a drawing by Saffery of a box with a hole in the top with an inscription, "Remember the poor."

7. Saffery, Poems (1834), pp. 191-2; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 201-02.

8. Box 17/3, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 213. This poem is commemorating the first anniversary of two important events in the life of Saffery: her daughter’s marriage to Joshua Whitaker, and Saffery's own removal from Salisbury to Bratton to live with her newly married daughter.