Rouse thee my Soul

Rouse thee my Soul, let every active power

Awake to serious usefull meditation:

With indignation spurn the gaudy trifles;

The worthless vanities which oft ensnare

My yielding heart. Let worthier subjects now

Employ my thoughts; let me consider Life,

The shortness of it! – Death, its certainty!

And what succeeds, Eternal Bliss or Woe!

As yet sustain’d by Heav’n I freely breath

In peace the vital air, in Life’s full bloom,

With smiling Health and cheering Affluence bless’d.

But ere the Sun again begins to dawn

On yonder eastern hills, perhaps these eyes

Commission’d Death with icy hand may close

In everlasting darkness, or if Life

Be lent me many years, its utmost span

Is short compar’d with vast Eternity!

Life is a toilsome journey, dangers wait

On every side t’ annoy the feeble trav’ler:

If bless’d with food, with health, and temp’rate air,

He marches on, a thousand tempting follies

Like glitt’ring gems allure and court his stay,

He strives to gather them, but strives in vain;

They flee his swift pursuit, or if he grasps

A few, their glimm’ring lustre then is lost,

And daylight too, his precious time is gone,

His destin’d journey he must needs defer

Till Phoebus wakes the day, and then his feet

By drowsy sloth are fetter’d: when again

He wakes to action, other dangers rise.

His path is slipp’ry, oft he helpless falls,

But rises slow, tott’ring and sliding still.

Perhaps he strays unknowing of the road

He ought to go, and therefore seeks a guide,

Who blind, or with a fraudulent design

Misleads him far, ’till both are lost in darkness.

If Heaven compassionate recall his steps,

Restore him light, and point a safer way,

Ev’n then he’s not exempt from various ills,

Foes, pain, and weariness disturb his peace,

And oft he halts, and trembling staggering fears

He ne’er shall reach the goal, then storms anon

And dreadfull tempests burst around his head,

But gleams of light amidst the dismal gloom

Shine forth, and cheer his eyes, ’till safe at last

He reaches home. Even so the Good man fares

In Life’s disastrous journey, but the man

Who knows not God, is infinitely more

Distress’d and wretched! every pain and grief

He bears alone, no gracious arm supports!

No cheering hope! no Sun of Righteousness,

With healing influence rises on his Soul.

With undirected step he swiftly hastes

To sure destruction! endless woes and torment!

Consider well my Soul how thou art trav’ling,

Amidst innumerable snares my feet

Are oft entangled, oft they erring slide,

And scarce can keep the road; but light Divine

I humbly hope has dawn’d in mercy on me,

And shewn me something of the living way

To Happiness! O may Allmighty Grace

Instruct and strengthen me to walk aright,

Support and comfort me in every trouble,

Prepare and fit me for the closing scene,

For Death, which will arrest me ere ’tis long.

Then O my Gracious God forsake me not,

Be nigh and send thy guardian Angells down

To bear my spirits to the realms of Peace,

Of perfect Happiness, of endless Bliss!

Then tun’d by Heav’n my joyfull tongue shall join With Saint and Seraph in harmonious praise

To thee the Allmighty God for ever more.

Text: Steele Collection, 3/1/4, no. 21 (ii); Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford; this poem first published in Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, vol. 2 (ed. Julia B. Griffin), p. 109.