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Augusta Davies Webster 1837 (Poole, Dorset) – 1894

Spring Stornelli.


OH clear smooth rivulet, creeping through our bridge
With backward waves that cling around the shore,
And is thy world beyond the dim blue ridge
More dear than this, or does it need thee more?
Oh lingering stream, upon thy ceaseless way
Glide to to-morrow; yet 'tis fair to-day:
Beyond the hills and haze to-morrows hide;
To-day is fair; glide lingering, ceaseless tide.


And summer time is good; but at its heat
The fair poor blossoms wither for the fruit,
And song-birds go that made our valley sweet
With useless ecstasies, and the boughs are mute.
And I would keep the blossoms and the song,
And I would have it spring the whole year long:
And I would have my life a year-long spring
To never pass from hopes and blossoming.


Dear welcome, sweet pale stars of hope and spring,
Young primroses, blithe with the April air;
My darlings, waiting for my gathering,
Sit in my bosom, nestle in my hair.
But, oh! the fairest laughs behind the brook,
I cannot have it, I can only look:
Oh happy primrose on the further beach,
One can but look on thee, one cannot reach.


Oh buoyant linnet in the flakes of thorn,
Sing thy loud lay; for joy and song are one.
Oh skylark floating upwards into morn,
Pour out thy carolling music of the sun.
Sing, sing; be voices of the life-ful air,
Glad things that never knew the cage nor snare:
Be voices of the air, and fill the sky,
Glad things that have no heed of by-and-by.

Summer Stornelli.


AMID the thousand blossoms of the lime,
The gossip bees go humming to and fro:
And oh the busy joy of working time!
And oh the fragrance when the lime trees blow!
Take the sweet honeys deftly, happy bees,
And store them for the later days than these:
Store, happy bees, these honeys for the frost,
That sweetness of the blossom be not lost.


A field-plant in my sheltered garden bed,
And I have set it there to love it dear;
It makes blue flowers to match skies overhead,
Blue flowers for all the while the summer's here.
Sky-blooms that woke and budded with the wheat,
Ye last and make the livelong summer sweet:
Spread while the green wheat passes into gold,
Sky-blooms I planted in the garden-mould.


The slow green wave comes curling from the bay
And leaps in spray along the sunny marge,
And steals a little more and more away,
And drowns the dulse, and lifts the stranded barge.
Leave me, strong tide, my smooth and yellow shore;
But the clear waters deepen more and more:
Leave me my pathway of the sands, strong tide;
Yet are the waves more fair than all they hide.


Some one has said a whispered word to me;
The whisper whispers on within my ear.
Oh little word, hush, hush, and let me be;
Hush, little word, too vexing sweet to hear.
And, if it will not hush, what must I do?
The word was 'Love'; perchance the word was true:
And, if it will not hush, must I repine?
I am his love; perchance then he is mine.


I love him, and I love him, and I love:
Oh heart, my love goes welling o'er the brim.
He makes my light more than the sun above,
And what am I save what I am to him?
All will, all hope I have, to him belong;
Oh heart, thou art too small for love so strong:
Oh heart, grow large, grow deeper for his sake;
Oh love him better, heart, or thou wilt break!


And we are lovers, lovers he and I:
Oh sweet dear name that angels envy us;
Lovers for now, lovers for by and by,
And God to hear us call each other thus.
Flow softly, river of our life, and fair;
We float together to the otherwhere:
Storm, river of our life, if storm must be,
We brunt thy tide together to that sea.


From the dusk elm rings out a changing lay;
The human-hearted nightingale sings there.
Why not, like little minstrels of the day,
Sweet voice, fling only raptures on the air?
'Tis that she's kin to us and has our woe,
Something that's lost or something yet to know:
'Tis that she's kin to us and sings our bliss,
Loving, to know love is yet more than this.


Storm in the dimness of the purpled sky,
And the sharp flash leaps out from cloud to cloud:
But the blue, lifted, corner spreads more high,
Brightness, and brightness, bursts the gathered shroud.
Aye, pass, black storm, thou hadst
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:04 min read

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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