“Address’d to a Canary Bird”

Since April is poetry month, it is only right that a poem or two appear on this blog. Hannah Lawrence (1758-1838) was the high-spirited, independent-minded daughter of John Lawrence, a New York City Quaker and merchant. In spite of the fact that her sympathies were with the Americans during the Revolution, she married Jacob Shieffelin, a Philadelphia-born loyalist serving in the British army during the occupation of New York City. Against her father’s wishes and the members of the Quaker meeting, it should be said. (See another post about Hannah Lawrence Schieffelin here). Hannah was a poet. Under the name of Mathilda, she wrote in 1774:

Address’d to a Canary Bird.

Pensive warbler cease thy fear
Charmer there’s no danger near
Rest contented, quite secure
From the Ills thy race endure.
If you wing the open air
Ah! what woes await you there!
All the agonizing pains
That the Parents heart sustains
When some Cruel Bird of prey
Bears your new-fledged young away.
Though the skies are now serene
Soon a cloud may change the scene,
Sudden furious winds arise,
Vapours sadden all the Skies
Fiery pointed lights display
Through the gloom a dismal day.
Tremendous thunders roar aloud
From the dark and threatning cloud:
Where, dear trembler, wouldst thou fly
From the inclement raging Sky?
With the object of thy love
Wouldst thou seek the shady grove,
If it, haply kind, will grant
The needful shelter that you want.
Lovly warbler, rest content,
All those cruel Ills prevent.

The poem is from Notebook of Poems by Matilda New York 1774, number I, in the Schieffelin Papers, Box 7, New York Public Library, Manuscripts.

posted April 2nd, 2015 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Poetry, Schieffelin, Hannah Lawrence


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