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Anna Seward

Anna Seward was born in Lichfield, England (which is north-northeast of Birmingham), in 1747, to Thomas Seward and Elizabeth Hunter. Elizabeth died, and it was Anna's obligation as the oldest daughter to take care of her father. However, as a result of her mother's death, Anna had the freedom not to marry.

Honora Sneyd came to live with Anna's family when Honora was six years old. Although Anna was nine years older than Honora, the two still became very close. Anna was heartbroken when Honora left at nineteen to return to her father's home. They did not live far and could still spend time together though.

Two years after that, Honora married Robert Edgeworth. Anna was heartbroken and felt betrayed, for Honora did not listen to Anna when trying to convince her not to marry. Honora died seven years after that, and Anna was again heartbroken.

Anna became very well educated at home. She read French, Italian, and Latin.

Anna wrote many poems to Honora. She also wrote poems about Penelope Weston, Miss Mompesson, Miss Fern, and Elizabeth Cornwallis (who Anna referred to as Clarissa). Elizabeth's father did not approve of female friendships, so Anna and Elizabeth were forced to keep their relationship a secret. Anna referred to Elizabeth as the "unpartaken and secret treasure of my soul."

Anna also befriended Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, two women who eloped and lived together in Wales.

Anna's poetry was both admired and criticized for its unconventional topics. One of her admirers named her the "Swan of Lichfield." Erasmus Darwin (the grandfather of Charles Darwin called her "the inventress of epic elegy."

(Addressed to Honora Sneyd)
I write, Honora, on the sparkling sand!-
The envious waves forbid the trace to stay:
Honora's name again adorns the strand!
Again the waters bear their prize away!

So Nature wrote her charms upon thy face,
The cheek's light bloom, the lip's envermeil'd dye,
And every gay, and every witching grace,
That Youth's warm hours, and Beauty's stores supply.

But Time's stern tide, with cold Oblivion's wave,
Shall soon dissolve each fair, each fading charm;
E'en Nature's self, so powerful, cannot save
Her own rich gifts from this o'erwhelming harm.

Love and the Muse can boast superior power,
Indelible the letters they shall frame;
They yield to no inevitable hour,
But will on lasting tablets write thy name.

Chill'd by unkind Honora's alter'd eye,
"Why droops my heart with pining woe forlorn,"
Thankless for much of good?-what thousands, born
To ceaseless toll beneath this wintry sky,
Or to brave deathful oceans surging high,
Or fell Disease's fever'd rage to mourn,
How blest to them would seem my destiny!
How dear the comforts my rash sorrows scorn!-
Affection is repaid by causeless hate!
A plighted love is changed to cold disdain!
Yet suffer not thy wrongs to shroud thy fate,
But turn, my soul, to blessings which remain;
And let this truth the wise resolve create,
The Heart estranged no anguish can regain.

Thou child of Night and Silence, balmy Sleep,
Shed thy soft poppies on my aching brow!
And charm to rest the thoughts of whence, or how
Vanish'd that priz'd Affection, wont to keep
Each grief of mine from rankling into woe.
Then stern Misfortune from her bended bow
Loos'd the dire strings;-and Care, and anxious Dread
From my cheer'd heart, on sullen pinion fled.
But now, the spell dissolv'd, th' enchantress gone,
Ceaseless those cruel fiends infest my day,
And sunny hours but light them to their prey.
Then welcome midnight shades, when the wish'd boon
May in oblivious dews my eye-lids steep,
Thou child of Night and Silence, balmy Sleep!

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Lesbian Poetry
Same-Sex Marriage
Homophobia and Hate Crimes
Links for Parents Trying to Deal with Their Teen's Homosexuality
Links for Teens Trying to Deal with Their Own Homosexuality
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