Here is a sonnet – my favourite verse form, by Caroline Norton; throughout her life she exhibited such courage, doing what she hoped was best for others, for example marrying a man who she hoped would help her family out of the dire situation and the poverty they found themselves, – and yet fate seemed to conspire to make her life more difficult and unfortunate. She fought her own battles, but extended her campaigns to support other women suffering in similar ways. She was born in 1808, but she was a woman much before her time.
BECAUSE I know that there is that in me
Of which thou shouldst be proud, and not ashamed,–
Because I feel one made thy choice should be
Not even by fools and slanderers rashly blamed,–
Because I fear, howe’er thy soul may strive
Against the weakness of that inward pain,
The falsehoods which my enemies contrive
Not always seek to wound thine ear in vain,–
Therefore I sometimes weep, when I should smile,
At all the vain frivolity and sin
Which those who know me not (yet me revile)–
My would-be judges–cast my actions in;
But else their malice hath nor sting nor smart–
For I appeal from them, Beloved, to thine own heart!