Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Soul’s Defiance

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

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

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;

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

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;

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,

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,

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—

A weak, reluctant prey;

For still the spirit, firm and free,

Unruffled by this last dismay,

Wrapt in its own eternity,

Shall pass away.