Lays for the Dead (1834)

In this, her final volume of poetry, Opie brought together elegiac verses written throughout her life. Though conscious, as she notes in her Preface, “that verses on one subject only, and that subject death, must be even painfully monotonous,” Opie uses the elegiac mode to explore a range of emotions. Of particular interest are “On the Portraits of Deceased Friends and Relatives, which Hang Around Me” in which she considers the complex relationship between representation, memory and mourning, and “Sketches of St Michael’s Mount” which combines the extreme sensibility to sublimity of landscape exhibited in her early poetry with reflections on history.


Dirge on the Death of My Relation, Captain Charles William Thompson, of the 3rd Guards, Who Was Killed near Bidart, in the Winter of 1813
Lines Addressed to a Departed Friend, Written after Attending His Funeral in the Friends’ Burying‑Ground at Norwich, in 1814, (Having Travelled All Night in Order to Arrive in Time.)
To the Spirit of _____
Lines on the Death of Two Brothers, the Only Sons of Friends Very Dear to Me
On the Anniversary of the Birth‑day of My Dear Relation, Ollyett Woodhouse, Advocate General of Bombay, Which Recurred Soon after I Had Heard of His Death, 1822
Stanzas on the Death of the Same
On the Anniversary of a Funeral, 1832
In Memory of My Mother
On the Funeral of _____
In Memory of a Dear Young Friend, Who Died, Almost Suddenly, Two Months Before Him Whose Suffering Age He So Often Soothed by His Attentions
Lines, Supposed to Be Addressed by a Brazilian to the Messenger Bird, Who Comes, as the Brazilian Believes, from the Land of Spirits
The Shipwreck
A  Lament
On the Sudden Death of a Beautiful Child
Lines on the Death of an Aged Friend, (Inscribed to Her Grandson.)
On the Death of the Lady _____,  Only Daughter of the Late Marquis  ______, and Widow of Colonel _____
On the Death of Reginald Heber, Bishop of Calcutta
On the Death of a Bride
Epitaph on an Amiable Individual in Humble Life
Lines, Written in an Album after the Death of its Owner, and under the Verses with Which I Had Begun it a Few Years Ago. [Includes Additional Lines to Which Is Prefixed “In Four Years after These Lines Were Written, I Paid the Following Tribute to That Mourning Mother.]
On the Christmas Day of 1830, Commemorative of the Sudden Death on That Day of a Most Dear and Venerated Friend
To _____,  on the Death of Her Mother, of Whom, in Her  Last Days,  a Friend Remarked, “It Is a Fine Sunset!”
Address to a Dying Friend
Epitaph on a Mother and Daughter, Relations of Mine, Who Died at Penzance, Within a Short Time of Each Other
Tributary Lines. Part the First.
Tributary Lines. Part the Second.
On the Death of a near Relation
On the Same
On the Death of a Child
On Seeing the Statue of My Late Uncle, Dr. Alderson, of Hull
The Parents’ Chaunt of Thanksgiving on the Death of One of Two Only Children, with Whom They Had Just Returned from Their Deceased Mother’s House  in the North of England,  to Their Home in the West
In Memory of ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑
To a Departed Friend
On the Portraits of Deceased Relatives and Friends, Which Hang Around Me
Introductory Lines.
Portrait the First.
Portrait the Second.
Portrait the Third.
Portrait the Fourth.
Portrait the Fifth.
Portrait the Sixth.
On a Luminous Sea, after Some Very Destructive Gales
The Last Letter
On Cuvier
In Memory of the Viscount G‑‑‑‑‑y, Whom I Saw for the Last Time When He Was Going with His Family to Court
On a Dear Friend, Lately Deceased
Sketches of Saint Michael’s Mount, Gratefully Inscribed to the Lord De Dunstanville and Sir John St. Aubyn, Bart.
The Argument.
Sketch the First.
Sketch the Second.
Sketch the Third.
Sketch the  Fourth.
The Skeleton.


Lays for the Dead.  London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman, 1834.

—–. 2nd ed.  London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman, 1840.


The Athenaeum, vol. 354, August 9, 1834, pp. 594.

Literary Gazette; and Journal of the Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, &c, vol. 909, June 21 1834, pp. 430.

Monthly Review, series. 4, vol. 10, 1834, 538.

New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, vol. 41, July 1834, pp. 376.

Modern Editions 

E-text available