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Not To Be

Augusta Davies Webster 1837 (Poole, Dorset) – 1894



THE rose said 'Let but this long rain be past,
And I shall feel my sweetness in the sun
And pour its fullness into life at last.'
But when the rain was done,
But when dawn sparkled through unclouded air,
She was not there.

The lark said 'Let but winter be away,
And blossoms come, and light, and I will soar,
And lose the earth, and be the voice of day.'
But when the snows were o'er,
But when spring broke in blueness overhead,
The lark was dead.

And myriad roses made the garden glow,
And skylarks carolled all the summer long—
What lack of birds to sing and flowers to blow?
Yet, ah, lost scent, lost song!
Poor empty rose, poor lark that never trilled!
Dead unfulfilled!

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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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