Frances Sheridan: Irish Woman Poet

Born Frances Chamberlaine in Dublin, the daughter of an Anglican clergyman who forbade here from learning to write, Frances Sheridan (1724-66) wrote her first novel when she was 15, married Thomas Sheridan, a theatre manager, when she was 23 and died in the south of France when only 42. She wrote plays, novels and poetry. One of her five children was the noted poet and playwright, Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

ODE TO PATIENCE

Unaw’d by threats, unmov’d by force,
My steady soul pursues her course.
Collected, calm, resigned ;
Say, you who search with curious eyes
The source whence human actions rise.
Say, whence this turn of mind? —

‘Tis Patience — lenient goddess, hail!
Oh I let thy votary’s vows prevail,
Thy threatened flight to stay;
Long hast thou been a welcome guest.
Long reign*d an inmate in this breast.
And rul’d with gentle sway.

Through all the various turns of fate,
Ordained me in each several state
My wayward lot has known.
What taught me silently to bear,
To curb the sigh, to check the tear,
When sorrow weighed me down? —

Twas Patience — Temperate goddess, stay!
For still thy dictates I obey,
Nor yield to passion’s power;
Tho’, by injurious foes borne down.
My fame, my toil, my hopes o’erthrown
In one ill-fated hour;

When, robb’d of what I held most dear,
My hands adorned the mournful bier
Of her I loved so well;
What, when mute sorrow chained my tongue
As o’er the sable hearse I hung.
Forbade the tide to swell? —

‘Twas Patience — goddess ever calm!
Oh! pour into my breast thy balm.
That antidote to pain;
WhicH, flowing from the nectar’d urn,
By chemistry divine can turn
Our losses into gain.

When, sick and languishing in bed,
Sleep from my restless couch had fled
(Sleep which even pain beguiles),
What taught me calmly to sustain
A feverish being rack’d with pain,
And dress’d my looks in smiles? —

‘Twas Patience — Heaven – descended maid!
Implor’d, flew swiftly to my aid.
And lent her fostering breast,
Watched my sad hours with parent care,
Repell’d the approaches of despair,
And sooth’d my soul to rest.

Say, when dissever’d from his side.
My friend, protector, and my guide,

When my prophetic soul,
Anticipating all the storm,
Saw danger in its direst form.
What could my fears control? —

‘Twas Patience — gentle goddess, hear!
Be ever to thy suppliant near,
Nor let one murmur rise;
Since still some mighty joys are given,
Dear to her soul, the gifts of Heaven,
The sweet domestic ties.

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