Anna Laetitia Barbauld

(20 June 1743 – 9 March 1825 / Leicestershire, England)

Enigma Poem by Anna Laetitia Barbauld


TO THE LADIES

Hard is my stem and dry, no root is found
To draw nutritious juices from the ground;
Yet of your ivory fingers' magic touch
The quickening power and strange effect is such,
My shrivelled trunk a sudden shade extends,
And from rude storms your tender frame defends:
A hundred times a day my head is seen
Crowned with a floating canopy of green;
A hundred times, as struck with sudden blight,
The spreading verdure withers to the sight.
Not Jonah's gourd by power unseen was made
So soon to flourish, and so soon to fade.

Unlike the Spring's gay race, I flourish most
When groves and gardens all their bloom have lost;
Lift my green head against the rattling hail,
And brave the driving snows and freezing gale;
And faithful lovers oft, when storms impend,
Beneath my friendly shade together bend,
There join their heads within the green recess,
And in the close-wove covert nearer press.
But lately am I known to Britain's isle,
Enough—You 've guessed—I see it by your smile.

Submitted: Monday, September 06, 2010

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