Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1821–1834
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vol. V: Literature of the Republic, Part II., 1821–1834
 
The Soul’s Defiance
By Lavinia Stoddard (1787–1820)
 
[Born in Guilford, Conn., 1787. Died at Blakeley, Ala., 1820. Preserved in Griswold’s “Female Poets of America.”]

I SAID to Sorrow’s awful storm,
  That beat against my breast,
Rage on—thou may’st destroy this form,
  And lay it low at rest;
But still the spirit that now brooks        5
  Thy tempest, raging high,
Undaunted on its fury looks
  With steadfast eye.
 
I said to Penury’s meagre train,
  Come on—your threats I brave;        10
My last poor life-drop you may drain,
  And crush me to the grave;
Yet still the spirit that endures
  Shall mock your force the while,
And meet each cold, cold grasp of yours        15
  With bitter smile.
 
I said to cold Neglect and Scorn,
  Pass on—I heed you not;
Ye may pursue me till my form
  And being are forgot;        20
Yet still the spirit, which you see
  Undaunted by your wiles,
Draws from its own nobility
  Its high-born smiles.
 
I said to Friendship’s menaced blow,        25
  Strike deep—my heart shall bear;
Thou canst but add one bitter woe
  To those already there;
Yet still the spirit, that sustains
  This last severe distress,        30
Shall smile upon its keenest pains,
  And scorn redress.
 
I said to Death’s uplifted dart,
  Aim sure—oh, why delay?
Thou wilt not find a fearful heart—        35
  A weak, reluctant prey;
For still the spirit, firm and free,
  Unruffled by this last dismay,
Wrapt in its own eternity,
  Shall pass away.        40
 
 
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