Tag Archives: Elizabeth Tollet

Elizabeth Tollet, “On a Death’s Head”

ELIZABETH TOLLET

 “On a Death’s Head”

 Est illic Lethaeus Amor, qui pectora sanat,
Inque suas gelidam lampadas addit aquam.                                                                                 Ovid.

On this Resemblance, where we find
A Portrait drawn for all Mankind,
Fond Lover! gaze a while, to see
What Beauty’s Idol Charms shall be.
Where are the Balls that once cou’d dart                                               5
Quick Lightning thro’ the wounded Heart?
The Skin, whose Teint cou’d once unite
The glowing Red and polish’d White?
The Lip in brighter Ruby drest?
The Cheek with dimpled Smiles imprest?                                               10
The rising Front, where Beauty sate
Thron’d in her Residence of State;
Which, half-disclos’d and half-conceal’d,
The Hair in flowing Ringlets veil’d;
‘Tis vanish’d all! remains alone                                                                   15
This eyeless Scalp of naked Bone:
The vacant Orbits sunk within:
The Jaw that offers at a Grin.
Is this the Object then that claims
The Tribute of our youthful Flames?                                                          20
Must am’rous Hopes and fancy’d Bliss,
Too dear Delusions! end in this?
How high does Melancholy swell!
Which Sighs can more than Language tell:
Till Love can only grieve or fear;                                                                  25
Reflect a while, then drop Tear
For all that’s beautiful or dear.

NOTES:

Title Death’s Head A picture or depiction of a human skull as a symbol of mortality (OED).

Epigraph “Lethaean Love is there, who makes hearts whole, and pours cool water upon his torch” (Ovid, The Remedies of Love from The Art of Love and Other Poems, p. 214).

Epigraph Lethaean “Causing oblivion or forgetfulness of the past. From the river Lethe in Hades, whose water when drunk made the souls of the dead forget their life on earth” (OED).

7 Teint “Colour; shade” (Johnson).

11 Front “The face or forehead” (Johnson).

16 Scalp Originally denoting the “skull” or “cranium” (OED).

18 Orbits “The eyeball; the eye” (OED).

20 Flames “The passion of love” (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions. With Anne Boleyn to King Henry VIII. An Epistle (London, 1755), pp. 58-59. [Google Books]

Edited by Carrie Siskind

Elizabeth Tollet, “The Portrait”

ELIZABETH TOLLET

 “The Portrait”

 Votiva pateat veluti descripta tabella
Vita —- —– —- —– Hor.

On what wou’d I my Wishes fix?
‘Tis not upon a Coach and Six:
‘Tis not your rich Brocades to wear;
‘Tis not on Brilliants in my Ear.
‘Tis not to hurry up and down                                              5
To Tunbridge, Epson, Kensington;
Much less to rub my wakeful Eyes
At Basset, till the Sun shou’d rise:
Had I a Foe I meant to curse,
Nay, Rival, I’d not wish her worse,                                       10
For once, to tell you what’s the Lot
I like, I’ve told you what ‘tis not;
A lazy Life I first wou’d choose,
A lazy Life best suits the Muse:
A few choice Books of ev’ry Sort;                                         15
But none that meddle with the Court.
Small Thoughts for Cloaths; ‘tis all a Case:
They’ll neither mend nor spoil my Face.
Money! Enough to serve my Ends:
An Hackney to go see my Friends;                                       20
That I may laugh if Fops pass by,
And they not know my Livery,
Friends that in any Dress would come;
To whom I’d always be at home:
My Table still shou’d cover’d be,                                           25
On this Side Books, on that Bohea;
While we sip on, and ne’er debate
Matters of Scandal, or of State.
For Horace tells us, as you know,
‘Tis Sweet to fool it a propos.                                                  30

Dulce est desipere in loco.      Hor.

NOTES:

Epigraph Votiva pateat veluti descripta tabella “Life may be laid out as if it were depicted on a votive tablet” (Horace, Satires, 2:1, ll. 3-4); Horace’s Satires were “published in 35 BCE” (Oxford Bibliographies).

6 Tunbridge Affluent town in Kent, England; Epsom Market town in Surrey; Kensington Royal palace in London.

8 Basset “An obsolete game of cards, resembling Faro, first played in Venice” (OED).

20 Hackney “A horse-drawn carriage which is let out for hire” (OED).

21 Fops “One who is foolishly attentive to and vain of his appearance, dress, or manners” (OED).

22 Livery “The dress, uniform, or insignia…by which a family, etc., may be identified” (OED).

26 Bohea “Name given in the early eighteenth century to finest kind of black tea” (OED).

29 Horace (65-8 BC), Latin lyric poet and satirist under the emperor Augustus.

30 a propos “To the purpose” (OED).

Postscript Dulce est desipere in loco “It is sweet to be silly at the appropriate time” (Horace, Odes, 4:12, l. 27).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions. With Ann Boleyn to King Henry VIII. An Epistle (London, 1755), pp. 33-34. [Google Books]

Edited by Donna Hang

Elizabeth Tollet, “To a Gentleman in Love”

ELIZABETH TOLLET

“To a Gentleman in Love.”

Say, in what gentle Sounds, what healing Strain,
The friendly Muse shall sooth the wounded Swain?
Thy self, the Muses Servant, best may know
To mourn in moving Verse the latent Woe:                                            5
Such Verse where Fear and humble Passion speak,
Where crowding Thoughts in soft Confusion break,
With falt’ring Eloquence the Fair might move,
Tho’ cold as Northern Snows to mutual Love.
Tho’ that perhaps thou hast in vain essay’d:                                          10
The Muse, at best, is but a faithless Aid;
So Princes by Auxiliars are betray’d.
Lonely tho wander’st where the founding Stones
Of Balliol’s Walls return thy hollow Groans;
Or where Severus’ Work describes the Bound                                       15
Of Roman Conquests on the British Ground.
The ruin’d Pile stood threatening o’er the Waste;
Prodigious Monument of Greatness past!
Hither perhaps the pensive Lover goes,
To shun his chearful Friends, and Speak his Woes.                              20
How art thou chang’d? Thou! who wert always known,
With modest Wit our temp’rate Mirth to crown.
What? Cannot Politicks and deep Debate
What menaces the Church, or shakes the State,
How great Eugenius clouds the waning Moon,                                       25
What Spain intends, or they who drink the Rhone,
From thy unquiet Breast these Cares remove?
This ‘tis, unhappy Youth! to be in Love.

Or when thy jocund Friends the Board surround,
With rural Stores and native Liquors crown’d,                                      30
Such as the British Swains, industrious, drain,
From blushing Apples, or the bearded Grain;
The love-sick Youth discovers his Suprize,
By faded Cheeks and unregarding Eyes:
By rising Sighs which heave his struggling Breast,                               35
And wand’ring Speech with sudden Pause supprest.
All Smile; and some with friendly Anger chide,
Some pity thy Distress, but most deride:
While you sit by, with careless Head reclin’d;
The only Fair employs your absent Mind.                                               40
We by your Doctrines may perhaps improve
For we, alas! are Hereticks in Love:
We may wish Vows of Constancy make bold;
But you de Jure love—–to have and hold.

Amantem languor & silentium                

Arguit, & latere

Petitus imo spiritus.

Hor. Epod.

NOTES:

2 Swain “A country gallant or lover” (OED).

12 Auxiliars Subordinates.

14 Balliol A college of Oxford University, founded before 1268.

15 Severus’ Work The Wall of Severus, also known as “Hadrian’s Wall;” built to defend the northwestern frontier of the Roman empire. Emperor Septimius Severus (reigned 193–211 AD) is said to have fortified Hadrian’s original turf wall with stone around 208 AD (Encyclopedia Britannica).

25 Eugenius Probably a reference to Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), Austrian general and statesman who figured prominently as an ally of England in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14) and the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35).

26 they who drink the Rhone The French, who were known for a “wine made from grapes grown in the Rhône valley, esp. in the region between Lyons and Avignon France” (OED).

42 Hereticks Those “who maintains theological or religious opinions at variance with the ‘catholic’ or orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church” (OED).

43 Constancy “Steadfastness of attachment to a person or cause; faithfulness, fidelity” (OED).

44 De Jure Archaic spelling of the French phrase “du jour,” which means “of the day” (OED).

Postscript Where my listlessness, my silences, and the sighs/ That were drawn from the depths of my heart, proved my love-sick state” (from Epode 11, ll. 9-10, by Quintus Horatius Flaccus [65-8 BC], published in 30 BC).

 Source: Poems on Several Occasions. With Anne Boleyn to King Henry VIII: An Epistle (London, 1755), pp. 28-30. [Google Books]

Edited by Taylor Albert

Elizabeth Tollet, “In Memory of the Countess of Winchelsea”

ELIZABETH TOLLET

In Memory of the Countess of Winchelsea”

 —Effugiunt avidos carmina sola rogos.  Ovid.

Sad Cypress and the Muses Tree
Shall shade Ardelia’s sacred Urn:
These with her Fame and Fate agree,
And ever live, and ever mourn.

While ev’ry Muse with vocal Breath                                           5
In moving Strains recites her Praise:
And there assumes the Cypress Wreath,
And on her Tomb resigns the Bays.

What Pow’r shall aid the Virgin Choir
To make her Worth and Virtue known?                          10
Who shall the Sculptor’s Art inspire
To write them on the lasting Stone?

The honour’d Streams of ancient Blood,
And Titles, are by Fortune giv’n:
But to be virtuous, wise, and good,                                        15
Derives a kindred Claim from Heav’n.

Virtue, and Wit in Courts admir’d,
The shining Pattern shall diffuse:
Nor, tho’ to private Life retir’d,
Are lost, but flourish with her Muse.                               20

Of those the Sister-Nine shall sing,
Yet with their Voice their Verse shall pass:
And Time shall sure Destruction bring
To wounded Stone, or molten Brass.

Tho’ Titles grace the stately Tomb,                                           25
Vain Monument of mortal Pride!
The Ruins of the mould’ring Dome
Its undistinguish’d Heap shall hide.

Wit, which outlasts the firmest Stone,
Shall, Phoenix-like, its life prolong;                                    30
No Verse can speak her but her own,
The Spleen must be her fun’ral Song.

NOTES:

Title Countess of Winchelsea The poet Anne Finch (1661-1720); she gained her title in 1712 when her husband, Heneage Finch, became the 5th Earl of Winchilsea.

Epigraph Effugiunt avidos carmina sola rogos “Only songs escape the greedy funeral pyres.” From Ovid’s “Elegy on the death of Tibullus,” Amores iii.9.

1 Cypress In ancient Greece, the cypress tree was associated with sorrow, and was often planted near graves to ward off evil spirits; Muses Tree The laurel tree, associated in ancient Greece with Apollo and the muses.

2 Ardelia Literary name or pseudonym used by Anne Finch; Sacred Urn Used to hold ashes.

21 Sister-Nine The nine muses. Goddesses of science, literature, and art.

27 mouldering Dome That is, the decaying tomb, or monument, that marks Finch’s grave.

30 Phoenix Mythological bird with the ability to resurrect. After the phoenix dies in a self-made fire, it is reborn and rises from its own ashes.

32 The Spleen An ode written by Anne Finch, first published in 1701.

 Source: Poems on Several Occasions. With Anne Boleyn to King Henry VIII. An Epistle (London, 1755), pp. 49-50. [Google Books]

 Edited by Talia Uribe