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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Lavinia Stoddard (1787–1820)

The Soul’s Defiance

I SAID to Sorrow’s awful storm

That beat against my breast,

“Rage on,—thou mayst 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 dismay,

Wrapt in its own eternity,

Shall pass away.”