1780 | Palgrave

The Promise of Dawn

The day itself is a deception.

See where the falling day
In silence steals away,
Behind the western hills withdrawn:
Her fires are quenched, her beauty fled,
While blushes all her face o’erspread,
As conscious she had ill fulfilled
The promise of the dawn.

Another morning soon shall rise,
Another day salute our eyes,
As smiling and as fair as she,
And make as many promises:
But do not thou
The tale believe,
They’re sisters all,
And all deceive.

“Tomorrow.” In 1773 Barbauld, née Aikin, published her first collection of poetry, aptly titled Poems—the subjects of which ranged from God to Corsican independence to Ovid’s wife—and the verses therein were hailed by the Monthly Review as “inferior only to the works of Milton and Shakespeare.” The following year she and her husband opened a school for boys in Palgrave, which they ran for eleven years. In 1791 she published a satirical attack on England’s unwillingness to abolish the slave trade and in 1793 an essay condemning England’s declaration of war on revolutionary France.