[Page 64]

SONNET [44] XLIV. Written in the Church Yard at Middleton in Sussex.

1 PRESS'D by the Moon, mute arbitress of tides,
2 While the loud equinox its pow'r combines,
3 The sea no more its swelling surge confines,
4 But o'er the shrinking land sublimely rides.
5 The wild blasts, rising from the western cave,
6 Drives the huge billows from their heaving bed;
7 Tears from their grassy tombs the village dead,

LINE 7. Middleton is a village on the margin of the sea in Sussex, containing only two or three houses. There were formerly several acres of ground between its small church and the sea; which now, by its continual encroachments, approaches within a few feet of this half ruined and humble edifice. The wall, which once surrounded the churchyard, is entirely swept away, many of the graves broken up, and the remains of bodies interred washed into the sea: Whence human bones are found among the sand and shingles on the shore.

8 And breaks the silent sabbath of the grave!
9 With shells and seaweed mingled, on the shore,
10 Lo! their bones whiten in the frequent wave;
11 But vain to them the winds and waters rave;
12 They hear the warring elements no more:
13 While I am doom'd by life's long storm opprest,
14 To gaze with envy, on their gloomy rest.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): SONNET [44] XLIV. Written in the Church Yard at Middleton in Sussex.
Themes: night; supernatural; melancholy; disaster
Genres: sonnet

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Source edition

Smith, Charlotte Turner, 1749-1806. Elegiac sonnets, and other poems. By Charlotte Smith. The first Worcester edition, from the sixth London edition, with additions. Printed at Worcester [Mass.]: by Isaiah Thomas, sold by him in Worcester, and by said Thomas and Andrews in Boston, 1795, p. 64. xix,[2],22-126,[2]p.,[5] leaves of plates: ill.; 15 cm. (12mo) (OTA N22357)

Editorial principles

The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Secondary literature

  • Roberts, Bethan. 'Breaking the Silent Sabbath of the Grave': Charlotte Smith's Sonnet XLIV and Her Place in Literary History. European Romantic Review 28(5) (2017): 549-570. Print.

Other works by Charlotte Smith (née Turner)