Sonnet to Miss Coltman. occasioned by her Sonnet to Sensibility (1788)

Yes, Sounds like these must warm the coldest heart,

Suspend the Tears of Anguish as they flow,

With pleasure paint the pallid Cheek of woe,

And force ev’n Pain to drop his blunted dart!

Ah, let not then the Rapture these impart

Be check’d by Diffidence: – her Clouds o’ershade

The Sun of Genius; – but it shall pervade

Her modest veil, and but more lovely seem,

Its soften’d Lustre more benignly bright!

Oh! could it cheer the more than mortal gloom

Which Sorrow spreads – that deeper, darker night

Which wraps each Object that could once delight

The Mourners Soul, and with a sacred Beam

Deriv’d from Heaven, shed Glory o’er the Tomb.

Text: MS, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, STE 5/3; STE 5/1; also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 3, p. 144. Whether Coltman’s poem appeared in print or was merely shared in manuscript with Steele and their coterie of friends is unknown.