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St. Ame

Augusta Davies Webster 1837 (Poole, Dorset) – 1894

A SUNNY glade below the bridge;
Clear shadows branching through a stream;
A hillock purple to the ridge
With velvet thyme; and the far gleam
Of white clouds in a dream,
Floating above the dusky lines
Of silent mountains black with pines.

An idle hour to lose away,
To question not, nor muse, nor know:
The ripples ripple where they may
From brown into the amber glow;
The moments drift and go.
And what is life, and toil, and fret?
We only breathe, and we forget.

So in their summer fields might rest
Disprisoned shades that henceforth share
The careless strength of souls possessed
By but the moment that is there,
The strength which children wear;
Might so be stilled from thought or speech,
Passed into calm beyond their reach.

And lo, the dragon-fly's locked wings
Upon the leaf my breath could stir;
And on my sleeve undoubting springs
A merry-minded grasshopper;
And, see, behind that fir,
A rat across our brook has come,
And rustles past us to his home.

And the sweet air is hushed with sound
More tranceful than low lullabies,
The plashings of the waters drowned
In babble of small insect cries
And surge of leafy sighs.
We hear, not heed: enough for us
Resting to feel that rest is thus.

Not now. Oh vacant hour long past,
Wherefore to-day live back in thee?
Ill hour that grew no growth to last,
Flower without seed, unfruitful tree,
Hast thou still right to be?
Fade out forgotten, ghost of nought,
What worth or wisdom hast thou brought?

Nay, seedless, fruitless hour, not so;
Fade not, but hide from sterner looks.
We have a secret we two know,
The secret of the woods, the brooks,
Of wild flowers in their nooks,
Of all glad growing things' delight
That live and never long for night:

A secret hidden from thought and will,
And only given to those who cease
From toil and pondering and are still,
The secret of that soulless peace,
The soul's joy and release,
To sit and see the sun and smile
Only because we live the while.

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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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