Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON SEEING AN OFFICER'S WIDOW DISTRACTED - ARREARS OF PENSION, by MARY BARBER



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ON SEEING AN OFFICER'S WIDOW DISTRACTED - ARREARS OF PENSION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O wretch! Hath madness cured thy dire despair?
Last Line: Ere pestilence or famine sweep the land.
Subject(s): Pensions; Widows & Widowers


O WRETCH! hath madness cured thy dire despair?
Yes -- All thy sorrows now are light as air:
No more you mourn your once loved husband's fate,
Who bravely perished for a thankless state.
For rolling years thy piety prevailed;
At length, quite sunk -- thy hope, thy patience failed.
Distracted now you tread on life's last stage,
Nor feel the weight of poverty and age:
How blest in this, compared with those whose lot
Dooms them to miseries, by you forgot!

Now, wild as winds, you from your offspring fly,
Or fright them from you with distracted eye;
Rove through the streets; or sing, devoid of care,
With tattered garments and dishevelled hair;
By hooting boys to higher frenzy fired,
At length you sink, by cruel treatment tired,
Sink into sleep, an emblem of the dead,
A stone thy pillow, the cold earth thy bed.

O tell it not; let none the story hear,
Lest Britain's martial sons should learn to fear:
And when they next the hostile wall attack,
Feel the heart fail, the lifted arm grow slack;
And pausing cry -- 'Though death we scorn to dread,
Our orphan offspring, must they pine for bread?
See their loved mothers into prisons thrown,
And, unrelieved, in iron bondage groan?'

Britain, for this impending ruin dread;
Their woes call loud for vengeance on thy head:
Nor wonder, if disasters wait your fleets;
Nor wonder at complainings in your streets.
Be timely wise; arrest th' uplifted hand,
Ere pestilence or famine sweep the land.





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