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A Coarse Morning

Augusta Davies Webster 1837 (Poole, Dorset) – 1894



OH the yellow boisterous sea,
The surging, chafing, murderous sea!
And the wind-gusts hurtle the torn clouds by,
On to the south through a shuddering sky,
And the bare black ships scud aloof from the land.
'Tis as like the day as can be,
When the ship came in sight that came never to strand,
The ship that was blown on the sunken sand—
And he coming back to me!

Oh the great white snake of foam,
The coiling, writhing, snake of white foam,
Hissing and huddering out in the bay,
Over the banks where the wrecked ship lay,
Over the sands where the dead may lie deep!
There are some in the churchyard loam,
Some two or three the sea flung to our keep:
Their mothers can sit by a grave to weep,
But my son never came home.

Never, never, living or dead—
Oh, never, Willie, living or dead,
Could you keep your word and come back to me!
Oh, my darling! As like this day as can be,
When the ship came in sight that came never to strand,
When the ship came rounding the head,
Close to the haven and close to the sand.—
And their graves are long green that were tossed to land.
Ah, 'Sure to come back,' he said!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Augusta Davies Webster

Augusta Webster born in Poole, Dorset as Julia Augusta Davies, was an English poet, dramatist, essayist, and translator. The daughter of Vice-admiral George Davies and Julia Hume, she spent her younger years on board the ship he was stationed, the Griper. She studied Greek at home, taking a particular interest in Greek drama, and went on to study at the Cambridge School of Art. She published her first volume of poetry in 1860 under the pen name Cecil Homes. In 1863, she married Thomas Webster, a fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. They had a daughter, Augusta Georgiana, who married Reverend George Theobald Bourke, a younger son of the Joseph Bourke, 3rd Earl of Mayo. Much of Webster's writing explored the condition of women, and she was a strong advocate of women's right to vote, working for the London branch of the National Committee for Women's Suffrage. She was the first female writer to hold elective office, having been elected to the London School Board in 1879 and 1885. In 1885 she travelled to Italy in an attempt to improve her failing health. She died on 5 September 1894, aged 57. During her lifetime her writing was acclaimed and she was considered by some the successor to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. After her death, however, her reputation quickly declined. Since the mid-1990s she has gained increasing critical attention from scholars such as Isobel Armstrong, Angela Leighton, and Christine Sutphin. Her best-known poems include three long dramatic monologues spoken by women: A Castaway, Circe, and The Happiest Girl In The World, as well as a posthumously published sonnet-sequence, "Mother and Daughter". more…

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