Sonnet XXXIV -- To a Friend
by Charlotte Turner Smith
Charm'd by thy suffrage, shall I yet aspire
(All inauspicious as my fate appears,
By troubles darken'd, that increase with years,)
To guide the crayon, or to touch the lyre?
Ah me!--the sister Muses still require
A spirit free from all intrusive fears,
Nor will they deign to wipe away the tears
Of vain regret, that dim their sacred fire.
But when thy envied sanction crowns my lays,
A ray of pleasure lights my languid mind,
For well I know the value of thy praise;
And to how few the flattering meed confined,
That thou,--their highly favour'd brows to bind;
Wilt weave green myrtle and unfading bays.
Smith was one of the major architects of the revival of the English sonnet in the nineteenth century; Wordsworth, who was very influenced by her, said of her that English verse owed more to her than was likely to be appreciated or remembered, and unfortunately he was right. In part due to her bluntness in dealing with other people, her fame, which was considerable at its height (although always more for her novels than her poetry), began to fade, and was virtually extinguished after her death. Cori Samuel has an excellent reading of the above sonnet at Librivox.