Anna Laetitia Barbauld

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

Peace and Shepherd


Low in a deep sequestered vale,
Whence Alpine heights ascend,
A beauteous nymph, in pilgrim garb,
Is seen her steps to bend.
Her olive garland drops with gore;
Her scattered tresses torn,
Her bleeding breast, her bruised feet,
Bespeak a maid forlorn.
“From bower, and hall, and palace driven,
To these lone wilds I flee;
My name is Peace,—I love the cot;
O Shepherd, shelter me!”

“O beauteous pilgrim, why dost thou
From bower and palace flee?
So soft thy voice, so sweet thy look,
Sure all would shelter thee.”
“Like Noah's dove, no rest I find;
The din of battle roars
Where once my steps I loved to print
Along the myrtle shores:
“For ever in my frighted ears
The savage war-whoop sounds;
And, like a panting hare, I fly
Before the opening hounds.”
“Pilgrim, those spiry groves among,
The mansions thou mayst see,
Where cloistered saints chaunt holy hymns,—
Sure such would shelter thee!”

“Those roofs with trophied banners stream,
There martial hymns resound;—
And, shepherd, oft from crosiered hands
This breast has felt a wound.”
“Ah! gentle pilgrim, glad would I
Those tones for ever hear!
With thee to share my scanty lot,
That lot to me were dear.
“But lo, along the vine-clad steep,
The gleam of armour shines;
His scattered flock, his straw-roofed hut,
The helpless swain resigns.
“And now the smouldering flames aspire;
Their lurid light I see;
I hear the human wolves approach:

I cannot
shelter thee.”

Submitted: Monday, September 06, 2010

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