SEWARD, ANNA (1747-1809)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HER 'SONNET FOR THE DRAWER IN THE THATCHED SHED BY THE BROOK AT PLAS NEWYDD', signed ('Anna Seward'), 1 page, quarto, 11 September 1799 [sic]
Stranger, when oer yon slant, warm field no cloud
Steals; - at its foot, the verge of a wide brook,
In tangled dell, where sun-beams never look...
Leaping o'er ragged stones, that age provoke
Foam & a hoarse murmer; while the pendant oak
Frowns over the little-clamorous-lonely foam...
Here of they muse the noon-tide hours away
Who gild her vale with intellectual ray.
The poem was evidently written at the home of the Ladies of Llangollen, at the time of Anna Seward's second visit to them, in September 1795; she had first met them in August that year and wrote her poem 'Llangollen Vale.' On 7 September that year Seward wrote a long letter to Henry White of Lichfield, describing the Ladies and their situation, mentioning in particular, and thus clearly rehearsing for her sonnet: 'In one part of it we turn upon a small knoll, which overhangs a deep hollow glen. In its tangled bottom, a frothing brook leaps and clamours over the rough stones in its channel. a large spreading beech canopies the knoll, and a semilunar seat, beneath its boughs, admits four people...'. She also noted that Mrs Tighe 'left an elegant and accurate sonnet, addressed to Lady E. Butler and her friend, on leaving their enchanting bowers.' The poem was published in The Poetical Works (kindly checked by Robert Maguire). Either this manuscript was written out in 1799 (which seems odd since the day and month are right for it being near the date of composition) or Anna Seward misdated it by accident. There is no watermark date.
PROVENANCE: Edward Spencer.
REFERENCES: The Swan of Lichfield, edited by Hesketh Pearson, 1936; The Poetical Works of Anna Seward, edited by Walter Scott, 3 volumes, 1810.