The Soul’s Defiance
by Lavinia Stoddard (1787-1820)
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.