"Smooth like her verse her passions learned to move, / And her whole soul was harmony and love."

— Barbauld, Anna Letitia [née Aikin] (1743-1825)

Work Title
Place of Publication
Joseph Johnson
"Smooth like her verse her passions learned to move, / And her whole soul was harmony and love."
Metaphor in Context
Such were the notes our chaster Sappho sung,
And every Muse dropped 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 learned to move,
And her whole soul was harmony and love.

Virtue that breast without a conflict gained,
And easy, like a native monarch, reigned.
On earth still favoured as by Heaven approved,
The world applauded, and Alexis loved.
With love, with health, with fame and friendship blest,
And of a cheerful 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 widowed grove
Sad Philomela mourns her absent love;
Now deep retired 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 gloom she wore her days;
She loved the work, and only shunned the praise:
Her pious hand the poor, the mourner blest;
Her image lived in every kindred breast.
Thynn, Carteret, Blackmore, Orrery approved,
And Prior praised, and noble Hertford loved;
Seraphic Kenn, and tuneful Watts were thine,
And virtue's noblest champions filled the line.
Blest in thy friendships! in thy death, too, blest!
Received without a pang to endless rest.
Heaven called the saint matured by length of days,
And her pure spirit was exhaled in praise.
Bright pattern of thy sex, be thou my Muse;
Thy gentle sweetness through my soul diffuse:
Let me thy palm, though not thy laurel share,
And copy thee in charity and prayer:--
Though for the bard my lines are far too faint,
Yet in my life let me transcribe the saint.
(ll. 1-44, pp. 96-7)
HDIS (Poetry); confirmed in ECCO-TCP.
At least 10 entries in ESTC (1773, 1774, 1776, 1777, 1792).

Barbauld, Mrs. (Anna Letitia), 1743-1825. See Poems (London: Printed for Joseph Johnson, 1773). <Link to ESTC><Link to ECCO-TCP>

Some text drawn from The Works of Anna Lætitia Barbauld. With a Memoir by Lucy Aikin (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Browne, and Green, 1825).

Reading McCarthy, William and Kraft, Elizabeth, eds. Anna Letitia Barbauld: Selected Poetry and Prose (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2002).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.