By Anne Hunter
Behold the gloomy tyrant’s awful form
Binding the captive earth in icy chains;
His chilling breath sweeps o’er the watery plains,
Howls in the blast, and swells the rising storm.
See from its centre bends the rifted tower,
Threat’ning the lowly vale with frowning pride,
O’er the scared flocks that seek its sheltering side,
A fearful ruin o’er their heads to pour.
While to the cheerful hearth and social board
Content and ease repair, the sons of want
Receive from niggard fate their pittance scant;
And where some shed bleak covert may afford,
Wan poverty, amidst her meagre host
Casts round her haggard eyes, and shivers at the frost.
About the author
Romantic poet and lyricist Anne Hunter (1742–1821) was the daughter of the military surgeon Robert Home. She married the famous London surgeon John Hunter and they had four children, two of whom died in infancy. Their home was a center of literary and intellectual life, and they often hosted gatherings for leading public figures, including members of the Bluestockings group.
Hunter first earned public attention as a songwriter when an early piece, “Adieu ye streams that softly glide,” was published in two songbooks, The Lark (1765) and The Charmer (1765). She collaborated with the composer Franz Joseph Haydn on several projects, contributing the lyrics for his Six Original Canzonettas (1794), some of the lyrics for his Second Set of Canzonettas (1795), and the words for two of his songs, “The Spirit’s Song” and “O Tuneful Voice.”
Hunter began to publish her poetry anonymously in the 1790s, and later published two collections, Poems (1802) and The Sports of the Genii (1804), as Mrs. John Hunter. Many of her poems are ballads, odes, or songs exploring romantic and domestic themes.