Tag Archives: verse epistle

Mary Darwall, “To my Garden”

[MARY DARWALL]

“To my Garden”

Fair Abode of Rural Ease,
Scene of Beauty, and of Peace!
When with anxious Care opprest,
Charm, O! charm my Soul to rest!
In thy Walks I musing trace                                               5
Youthful Flora’s various Race;
In thy fragrant Shades reclin’d,
Soothe with Song my vacant Mind.
When the God of Verse and Day,
Lends the Western World his Ray;                                   10
While the Virgin Queen of Night,
Sheds around her Silver Light;
While Favonius breathes a Gale,
Sweet as o’er Sabea’s Vale;
Here retir’d, in artless Lays,                                              15
Nature’s Daughter sings her Praise.
While the blushing Rose-bud vies
With the fring’d Carnation’s Dyes;
While chaste Daphne’s Branches twine
With the balmy Eglantine;                                                 20
Beauty’s Pow’rs my Mind inspire,
Bolder now I strike the Lyre.
But the trembling Strings rebound,
“Sweet Philander!” Darling Sound!
Not the friendly Western Gales                                         25
Dancing o’er the verdant Vales,
Nor the Black-bird’s Evening Strains,
Soothe the Breast where Cupid reigns.
Flora’s Charms no more I view;
No more the Heav’n’s etherial Blue;                                  30
Unheeded Philomel complains;
In vain fair Cynthia gilds the Plains:
Beauty fades, and Pleasure’s flown—
My Mind contemplates him alone.

NOTES:

6  Flora  The Roman “goddess of the flowering of plants” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

9  God of Verse and Day  Apollo, god of the sun and poetry (Encyclopedia Britannica).

11  Virgin Queen of Night  Diana, Roman goddess of wild animals, the hunt, and later the moon after connections were made between her and the Greek goddess Artemis (Encyclopedia Britannica).

13  Favonius  Roman god of the west wind, also known as Zephyrus in the Greek tradition, who kissed a nymph named Chloris and turned her into Flora (Encyclopedia Britannica).

14  Sabea  Pre-Islamic Southwestern Arabia (Encyclopedia Britannica).

16  Nature’s Daughter  Persephone, queen of the underworld and daughter of Demeter, Greek goddess of agriculture (Encyclopedia Britannica).

19  Daphne’s Branches A reference to a laurel tree; according to Greek mythology, Daphne asked her father to turn her into a laurel tree in order to escape Apollo’s advances (Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology).

20  Eglantine  Small, prickly wild rose with fragrant foliage and numerous small pink flowers (Encyclopedia Britannica).

28  Cupid  The Roman god of “love in all its varieties” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

30  etherial  Archaic spelling of “ethereal,” “heavenly, celestial” (OED).

31  Philomel  Also known as “Philomela;” here the mythological personification of the nightingale.

32  Cynthia  “A poetic name for the Moon personified as a goddess” (OED).

Source: Original Poems on Several Occasions.  By Miss Whateley (London 1764), pp. 98-99. [Google Books]

Edited by Jordie Palmer

Edward Lovibond, “To a Young Lady, a Very Good Actress”

EDWARD LOVIBOND

 “To a Young Lady, a Very Good Actress

 

Powerful is Beauty, when to mortal seats
From Heaven descends the heaven-created good,
When Fancy’s glance the fairy phantom meets,
Nymph of the shade, or Naiad of the flood.

So blooms CELENA, daughter of the skies,                                                                5
Queen of the joys romantic rapture dreams,
Her cheeks are summer’s damask rose, her eyes
Steal their quick lustre from the morning’s beams,

Her airy neck the shining tresses shade;
In every wanton curl a Cupid dwells:                                                                  10
To these, distrusting in the Graces’ aid,
She joins the mighty charms of magic spells.

Man, hapless man in vain destruction flies,
With wily arts th’ enchantress nymph pursues;
To varying forms, as varying lovers rise,                                                                    15
Shifts the bright IRIS of a thousand hues.

Behold the’ austere Divine, oppress by years,
Colics, and bulk, and tithes ingend’red care
The sound of woman grates his aching ears,
Of other woman than a scripture Fair.                                                                20

Sudden she comes a DEBORAH bright in arms,
Or wears the pastoral RACHEL’S ancient mien;
And now, as glow gay-flushing eastern charms,
He sighs like DAVID’S son for SHEBA’S Queen.

To CHANGE the China trader speeds his pace,                                                          25
Nor heeds the chilly North’s unripening dames;
‘Tis her’s with twinkling eyes, and lengthen’d face,
And pigmy foot, to wake forgotten flames.

She oft, in likeness of th’ EGYPTIAN Crone,
Too well inform’d, relates to wond’ring swains                                                 30
Their amorous plaints preferr’d to her alone:
Her own relentless breast too well explains.

See, at the manor’s hospitable board
Enters a Sire, by infant age rever’d;
From shorten’d tube exhaling fumes afford                                                              35
The incense bland that clouds his forky beard.

Conundrums quaint, and puns of jocund kind,
With rural ditties, warm th’ elated ‘Squire,
Yet oft sensations quicken in his mind,
Other than ale and jocund puns inspire.                                                            40

The forms where bloated Dropsy holds her seat
He views, unconscious of magicians’ guiles,
Nor deems a jaundic’d visage lov’d retreat
Of graces, young desires, and dimpled smiles.

Now o’er the portal of an antique hall                                                                        45
A Grecian form the raptur’d patriot awes,
The hoary bust and brow severe recal
LYCURGUS, founder of majestic laws.

Awhile entranc’d, he dreams of old Renown,
And Freedom’s triumph in PLATEAN fields,                                                       50
Then turns – relaxing sees the furrow’d frown,
To melting airs the soften’d marble yields.

I see the lips as breathing life, he cries,
On icy cheeks carnation blooms display’d,
The pensive orbs are pleasure-beaming eyes                                                            55
And SPARTA’S lawgiver a blushing maid.

There, at the curtains of the shudd’ring youth,
Stiff, melancholy, pale, a spectre stands,
Some love-lorn virgin’s shade – O! injur’d truth,
Deserted phantom, and ye plighted hands,                                                        60

He scarce had utter’d – from his frantic gaze
The vision fades – succeeds a flood of light.
O friendly shadows, veil him, as the blaze
Of Beauty’s sun emerging from the night.

Here end thy triumphs, nymphs of potent charms,                                                   65
The laurel’d Bard is Heaven’s immortal care;
Him nor Illusion’s spell nor philter harms,
Nor music floating on the magic air.

The myrtle wand his arm imperial bears,
Reluctant ghosts and stubborn elves obey:                                                         70
Its virtuous touch the midnight fairy fears,
And shapes the wanton in AURORA’S ray.

I ceas’d; the virgin came in native grace,
With native smiles that strengthen Beauty’s chain:
O vain the confidence of mortal race!                                                                           75
My laurel’d head and myrtle wand are vain.

Again wild raptures, kindling passions rise,
As once in ANDOVER’S autumnal grove,
When looks that spoke, and eloquence of sighs,
Told the soft mandate of another’s love.                                                               80

NOTES:

4 Nymph “Any of a class of semi-divine spirits; imagined as taking the form of a maiden” (OED); Naiad of the flood “a nymph of fresh water” (OED).

 5 Celena Or Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon.

10 Cupid “In Roman Mythology, the god of love” (OED).

 16 Iris “The goddess who acted as the messenger of the gods, and was held to display as her sign, or appear as, the rainbow” (OED).

18 Colics “A name given to severe…gripping pains in the belly” (OED); bulk “A heap, cargo” (OED); tithes “A favor” (OED).

21 Deborah A prophet and only female judge from the Bible (Judges 4).

22 Rachel Figure from the Bible, the favorite of Jacob’s two wives (Genesis 30).

24 David’s son for Sheba’s queen An allusion to the enigmatic biblical story of King David’s son, Solomon, and the unnamed Queen of Sheba who visited Jerusalem to test his wisdom (1 Kings 10).

25 Change “A place where merchants or bankers conduct business” (OED).

26 unripening dames Young women.

29 Egyptian Crone Nephthys, an Egyptian goddess of old age, death.

31 amorous plaints “Audible expressions of sorrow” (OED).

 37 jocund “Feeling, expressing, or communicating mirth or cheerfulness” (OED).

43 jaundic’d “To affect with envy or jealousy” (OED).

 41 Dropsy “A morbid condition characterized by the accumulation of watery fluid, or an insatiable thirst or craving” (OED).

45 portal An entrance.

48 Lycurgus A lawgiver of Sparta.

56 Sparta Prominent city-state in ancient Greece.

58 spectre “An apparition, phantom, or ghost” (OED).

 67 philter “A potion, drug, or (occasionally) charm supposed to be capable of exciting sexual attraction or love” (OED).

69 myrtle wand A magic wand, as used by pagans.

 72 Aurora A Roman goddess who personifies dawn.

78 Andover A market town in Hampshire, England.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1785), pp. 102-107. [Google Books]

Edited by Rachel Rosenthal

Phillis Wheatley, “To the University of Cambridge, in New-England”

PHILLIS WHEATLEY

 “To the University of CAMBRIDGE, in NEW-ENGLAND.”

 

While an intrinsic ardor prompts to write,
The muses promise to assist my pen;
’Twas not long since I left my native shore,
The land of errors, and Egyptian gloom:
Father of mercy, twas thy gracious hand                                         5
Brought me to safety from those dark abodes.

Students, to you ‘tis giv’n to scan the heights
Above, to traverse the ethereal space,
And mark the systems of revolving worlds.
Still more, ye sons of science ye receive                                           10
The blissful news by messengers from heav’n,
How Jesus blood for your redemption flows.
See him with hands out-stretcht upon the cross;
Immense compassion in his bosom glows;
He hears revilers, nor resents their scorn:                                       15
What matchless mercy in the Son of God!
When the whole human race by sin had fall’n,
He deign’d to die, that they might rise again,
And share with him in the sublimest skies,
Life without death, and glory without end.                                        20

Improve your privileges while they stay,
Ye pupils, and each hour redeem, that bears
Or good or bad report of you to heav’n.
Let sin, that baneful evil to the soul,
By you be shunn’d, nor once remit your guard;                                 25
Suppress the deadly serpent in its egg.
Ye blooming plants of human race divine,
An Ethiop tells you ‘tis your greatest foe;
Its transient sweetness turns to endless pain,
And in immense perdition sinks the soul.                                            30

NOTES:

 Title   Harvard University, named after benefactor John Harvard (1607-1638), was established
in 1637 in Newetowne, MA, renamed “Cambridge” in 1638 (harvard.edu).

 1  ardor   “Enthusiasm or passion” (OED).

 2   muses   “The Nine Muses in Greek mythology, goddesses of the arts, literature and
science,” daughters of the Greek god Zeus and Titan goddess of memory, Mnemosyne
(OED).

18  deigned   “Beneath one’s dignity” (OED).

21  improve   “Profit from” (OED).

24  baneful   “Harmful, destructive” (OED).

26  deadly serpent  Alluding to the serpent in The Garden of Eden, from the book of
Genesis (Genesis 3:14, King James Bible).

28  Ethiop “ From Latin Aethiops, Ethiopian, negro” (OED).

30  perdition   Eternal damnation, hell (OED).

Source: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1773), pp. 15-16. [archive.org]

Edited by Vivian Barbulescu

Mary Masters, “To my Self”

MARY MASTERS

“To my Self”

Maria, now, leave all that thou hast lov’d,
And be, no more, by outward objects mov’d.
Quit the vain World, and its alluring Toys,
Its airy Pleasures, and fictitious Joys.
False are the Colours, high is the Deceit,                                                  5
And that, which fairest seems, the greatest Cheat.
Turn then, fond Maid, from the Delusion fly,
And guide thy future Aims by Reason’s Eye.
No more let Sense the radiant Queen depose,
Or the fair Monarch her just Sceptre lose.                                                10
Let Her mild Dictates bend thy stubborn Will,
And keep thy wild impetuous Passions still:
Let gentle Prudence her soft Pow’r exert,
And curb the Transports of thy foolish Heart.
Tempestuous Anger, and tumultuous Joy,                                               15
Both are uncomely, both the Health destroy.
These, and all others of the ardent Kind,
Are prejudicial to a peaceful Mind,
Then, shun extremes, and calmly bear thy Fate,
Not too dejected, nor too much elate.                                                       20
If thy kind Lord a prosp’rous Lot has giv’n,
Bless the Indulgence of all-bounteous Heav’n.
Or, if he fixes a severer Doom,
And should think fit to call his Favours home;
Humbly submit to the divine Decree,                                                        25
None but himself his wise designs can see.

NOTES:

 1 Maria Mary Masters’s poetic name for herself.

3 Toys “Matter of no importance; thing of no value” (Johnson).

12 impetuous “Violent; forcible” (Johnson).

13 Prudence “Wisdom applied to practice” (Johnson).

15 Tempestuous “Strong conflicting emotions” (OED); tumultuous “Violent commotion; irregularly and confusedly agitated” (Johnson).

17 ardent “Fiery; fierce” (Johnson).

20 dejected “Low spirited” (Johnson); elate “To heighten” (Johnson).

21 kind Lord Likely a reference to the Christian God

23 Doom Death.

 25 Decree “A law” (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 169-171.

 Edited by Kaili Ferreira

Charlotte Lennox, “To Aurelia, on her attempting to write Verses”

CHARLOTTE LENNOX

“To Aurelia, on her attempting to write Verses.”

 

Long had Aurelia vainly stove
To write in melting strains of Love;
Ambitious of a Poet’s Name,
She wept, she sigh’d, she long’d for Fame;
While of the great Design possest                                            5
She thus the Delian God addrest:
Brightest of heavenly Powers above,
Immortal Son of thund’ring Jove;
Oh glorious Deity impart
To me the soft poetic Art;                                                          10
Vouchsafe to me thy sacred Fire,
And with thyself my Soul inspire.
She Spake — the God indulgent hears
The beauteous Maid, and grants her Prayers.
On Clio turns his radiant Eyes,                                                  15
And to the tuneful Goddess cries,
Fly hence to fair Aurelia’s Aid,
In heavenly Strains instruct the Maid:
The Muse obeys the God’s Commands
With Joy, and swift as Thought descends,                                20
And at Aurelia’s Side attends.
Conscious of her new Power, the Maid
With Thanks the glorious Gift repay’d:
Now Waller’s Sweetness, Granville’s fire,
At once her tuneful Breast inspire:                                            25
No more she vainly strives to please,
The ready Numbers flow with ease:
All soft, harmonious and divine;
Apollo shines in every Line.
The Delian God with Rapture fill’d                                              30
Upon his lovely Pupil smil’d.
Daphne, his once-lov’d charming Care,
Appear’d to him not half so fair:
For the lost Nymph he mourns no more;
Nor in his Songs her Loss deplore;                                            35
But from the slighted Tree he tears
It’s Leaves, to deck Aurelia’s Hairs.
A Poet now by all she’s own’d,
And with immortal Honour crown’d.

NOTES:

6 Delian God Apollo.

8 Jove Jupiter, also known as Jove, is the god of the sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology. He is also remembered as Zeus, his name among the Greeks (New World Encyclopedia).

11 Vouchsafe “To give or grant something to someone in a gracious or condescending manner” (OED).

15 Clio The muse of history.

24 Waller’s Sweetness Edmund Waller (1606-1687), poet and politician, known in the period for his panegyric verse and “sweet” lyric poetry (Britannica); Granville’s fire  George Granville, Baron Lansdowne (1666-1735), poet, playwright, and politician, a poetic imitator of Waller, but also known for his fiery political speeches (Britannica).

29 Apollo In this context, the god of song and poetry.

30 Rapture “A state, condition or fit of intense delight or enthusiasm” (OED).

32 Daphne In Greek mythology, to escape Apollo’s pursuit, Daphne was turned into a bay laurel tree, whose leaves formed into a garland symbolize poetic excellence (Brittanica).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1747), pp. 28-30. [Google Books]

Edited by Astrid Regalado Sibrian

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

Clara Reeve, “To my Friend Mrs. ——, On Her Holding an Argument in Favour of the Natural Equality of Both the Sexes”

[CLARA REEVE]

“To my Friend Mrs.——,
On Her Holding an Argument in Favour of the Natural Equality of Both the Sexes.
Written in the Year MDCCLVI.”

 

Silence best serves to disapprove
False reasoning in those we love.
Tho’ t’other day I held my tongue,
I thought you greatly in the wrong;
How could you so unfairly try’d                                                                         5
With no one present to decide,
Argue the best, that woman can
Pretend to triumph o’er a man?
I once was half of your opinion,
But now subscribe to their dominion.                                                                10
The same unchanging law that fixes,
Eternal difference of sexes,
Has for the wisest ends assign’d
Due bounds to either sex’s mind.
Your heart with argument elated,                                                                         15
Thinks both were equal when created,
And holds its own imagination,
That all depends on cultivation:
But to speak plainly, in reality
I don’t believe in this equality,                                                                                 20
But think that partial heav’n design’d,
To them the more capacious mind;
And that their brains, dame Nature’s college,
And best receptacles for knowledge.
Lend me my friend a while your hand,                                                                     25
I’ll lead you over classic land,
To hear what sages fam’d of old
On this nice subject shall unfold.
Thus much may serve for introduction,
Leading to pleasure and instruction.                                                                            30

Not every one can write that chuses,
But those invited by the Muses:
These are nine wit-inspiring lasses,
Who dwell about the hill Parnassus.
Their patron whom they serve and follow,                                                                   35
A beardless youth—the Greek Apollo—
Still lovely, active, young, and gay,
He drives the chariot of the day,
Teaches these girls polite behaviours,
For which they grant him certain favours:                                                                     40
(But modest ones you may be sure,
For they are virgins chaste and pure.)
He leads their concerts, which they fill
With wond’rous harmony and skill;
For he’s the prince of all musicians,                                                                                 45
Beside the greatest of physicians.
He finds them music for their frolics,
And cures their head-achs, nerves, and cholics.

From out the side of this fam’d mountain,
Rises a wit-inspiring fountain;                                                                                            50
Which murmurs music as it plays,
Laurels its banks produce and bays.
Here all the scholars drink their fill,
And then attempt to climb the hill;
(But first from trees the boughs they take,                                                                      55
And garlands for their heads they make;
Whose strange effects, to us a wonder,
Secure them from the power of thunder:)
With pain and care they clamber up,
And very rarely gain the top:                                                                                               60                     But if they reach the Muses seat,
They have assign’d them a retreat.
Apollo’s self records their name,
And gives it to the charge of Fame;
Who first displays to earth and sky,                                                                                   65
Then folds it up and lays it by,
In her immortal library.
Now comes our case.—The ancients tell us,
These nymphs were always fond of fellows;
For by their records it is clear,                                                                                              70
Few women ever have been there.
Not that it contradicts their laws,
But they assign the following cause;
The sacred Heliconian spring,
Of which old poets sweetly sing:                                                                                           75
(Tho’ modern writers only flout it,
Alledging they can do without it)
Produces very strange effects,
On the weak brains of our soft sex;
Works worse vagaries in the fancy,                                                                                        80
Then Holland’s gin, or royal Nancy.
In short, to what you will compare it,
Few women’s heads have strength to bear it.
See some with strong and lively fancies,
Write essays, novels, and romances.                                                                                      85
Others by serious cares and pains,
With politics o’erset their brains.
Children, some call themselves of Phoebus,
By virtue of a pun, or rebus.
Some much affect the strain satyric,                                                                                       90
And others all for panegyric.
In all, and each of these you find,
Strong markings of the female mind,
Still superficial, light and various;
Loose, unconnected, and precarious:                                                                                      95
Life and vivacity I grant,
But weight and energy they want;
That strength that fills the manly page,
And bids it live to future age.

Now as it oft hath been evinc’d,                                                                                          100
We do not love to be convinc’d;
So if conviction give you grief,
Restriction may afford relief.
Exceptions to all gen’ral rules,
Are still allow’d of in the schools:                                                                                                 105
And Phoebus’s favours to the fair
Are not impossible, tho’ rare.
In Fame’s great library, we’re told,
Some female names there are enroll’d;
Matrons of Greece, other of Rome,                                                                                              110
And some, to please you, nearer home:
Moderns there are, France brags of many,
And England shews as good as any.
See our Orinda swell the page,
Carter, and Lenox grace this age;                                                                                                  115
But leaving these consign’d to Fame,
Lusus Naturae is their name.
As some among the men we find,
Effeminate in form and mind;
Some women masculine are seen                                                                                                 120
In mind, behavior, and in mien:
For Nature seldom kindly mixes,
The qualities of both the sexes.
These instances are sometimes quoted,
As owls are shown, but to be hooted.                                                                                           125
Dare now to ope your eyes and see,
These truths exemplified in me.
What tho’ while yet an infant young,
The numbers trembled on my tongue;
As youth advanc’d, I dar’d aspire,                                                                                                    130
And trembling struck the heavenly lyre.
What by my talents have I gained?
By those I lov’d to be disdain’d,
By some despis’d, by others fear’d,
Envy’d by fools, by witlings jeer’d.                                                                                                    135
See what success my labours crown’d,
By birds and beasts alike disown’d.
Those talents that were once my pride,
I find it requisite to hide;
For what in man is most respected,                                                                                                 140
In woman’s form shall be rejected.
Thus have I prov’d to demonstration,
The fallacy of your oration.
(You need not let the fellows know it,
They’ll praise the wit, but damn the poet.)                                                                                      145
The point illustrated, my friend,
Brings my long story to its end.
When you have read it o’er at leisure,
Keep it—or burn it—at your pleasure.

NOTES:

Title Mrs. The addressee of this poem, Mrs. ——, is unknown, although the volume is dedicated to a Mrs. Stratford.

22 capacious “Able to hold much; roomy, spacious, wide” used here to mean men have “larger” intellectual capacity (OED).

32 Muses The nine Greek goddesses of “poetry, philosophy, and inspiration” (Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization).

 34 Parnassus “Mount Parnassus,” regarded as the “source of literary, esp. poetic, inspiration” (OED).

 36 Apollo Greek god of “poetry and music, the sun, and medicine” (OCCC).

 48 nerves “Disordered or heightened sensitivity; anxiety, fearfulness, tension, nervousness”; cholics Short for “melancholic,” referring to a state of “sadness or depression” (OED).

 49 fam’d mountain Parnassus [see line 34].

52 Laurels “To adorn with the leaves of the bay tree, which signified victory or poetic distinction” (OED).

 74 Heliconian “Mt. Helicon” was another home for the Muses, the “Vale of the Muses” (OCCC).

 80 vagaries “Wandering or devious journeys” (OED); fancy “Imagination” (OED).

 81 Holland’s gin Also known as “geneva or genever, a grain spirit from Belgium or the Netherlands flavored with juniper”; Nancy “Nants brandy or Nants wine,” produced in the Nantes region of France (OED).

 88 Phoebus Apollo [see line 36].

89 rebus A representation of a word using “pictures or symbols” (OED).

 90 satyric Archaic spelling of “satiric.”

 91 panegyric “Writing meant to praise a person or thing” (OED).

 96 vivacity “Intellectual or mental animation, acuteness, or vigour” (OED).

 105 still Originally “still’d,” likely printer’s error.

 114 Orinda Katherine Phillips (1631-1664), poet and translator of two plays, wrote under the alias “Orinda” in her letters.

115 Carter Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806), famed translator and poet, would translate the works of Epictetus from Greek in 1758; Lenox Charlotte Lennox (1730-1804), author of The Female Quixote (1752).

117 lusus naturae Latin for “a freak of nature” (OED).

 120 mien “Look or manner” (OED).

 131 lyre A lyre is the favored instrument of Apollo (OCCC).

135 witlings Someone who pretends to be “more clever” than they are (OED).

 139 Reeve would revise her earlier views on women’s writing in her prefatory “Address to the Reader” published in this volume: “I formerly believed…my sex was an insuperable objection [to writing] …but now am convinced of the mistake, by daily examples to the contrary,” and she offers the collection as a “general apology” (xi).

143 fallacy “falsehood” (OED).

 Source: Original Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1769), pp. 4-11. [Google Books]

 Edited by: John Paul Castillo

Mary Barber, “The Prodigy. A Letter to a Friend in the Country”

[MARY BARBER]

“The Prodigy. A Letter to a Friend in the Country”

 

THO’ Rhyme serves the Thoughts of great Poets to fetter,
It sets off the Sense of small Poets the better.
When I’ve written in Prose, I often have found,
That my Sense, in a Jumble of Words, was quite drown’d.
In Verse, as in Armies, that march o’er the Plain,                                                                  5
The least Man among them is seen without Pain.
This they owe to good Order, it must be allow’d;
Else Men that are little, are lost in a Croud.

So much for Simile: Now, to be brief,
The following Lines come to tell you my Grief.                                                                     10
’Tis well I can write; for I scarcely can speak,
I’m so plagu’d with my Teeth, which eternally ake.
When the Wind’s in the Point which opposes the South,
For Fear of the Cold, I can’t open my Mouth:
And you know, to the Sex it must be a Heart-breaking,                                                       15
To have any Distemper, that keeps them from speaking.

When first I was silent a Day and a Night,
The Women were all in a terrible Fright.
Supplications to JOVE, in an Instant, they make—
“Avert the Portent—a Woman not speak!                                                                              20
Since Poets are Prophets, and often have sung,
The last Thing that dies in a Woman’s her Tongue;
O JOVE, for what Crime is Sapphira thus curst?
’Tis plain by her Breathing, her Tongue has dy’d first.
Ye Powers celestial, tell Mortals, what Cause                                                                        25
Occasions Dame Nature to break her own Laws?
Did the Preacher live now, from his text he must run;
And own there was something new under the Sun.
O JOVE, for the future this Punishment spare;
And all other Evils we’ll willingly bear.”                                                                                    30

Then they throng to my House, and my Maid they beseech,
To say, if her Mistress had quite lost her Speech.
Nell readily own’d, what they heard was too true;
That To-day I was dumb, give the Devil his Due:
And frankly confess’d, were it always the Case,                                                                     35
No Servant could e’er have a happier Place.

When they found it was Fact, they began all to fear me;
And, dreading Infection, would scarcely come near me:
Till a Neighbour of mine, who was famous for Speeching,
Bid them be of good Cheer, the Disease was not catching;                                                  40
And offer’d to prove, from Authors good Store,
That the like Case with this never happen’d before;
And if Ages to come should resemble the past,
As ’twas the first Instance, it would be the last.
Yet against this Disorder we all ought to strive:                                                                     45
Were I in her Case, I’d been bury’d alive.
Were I one Moment silent, except in my Bed,
My good natur’d Husband would swear I was dead.

The next said, her Tongue was so much in her Pow’r,
She was sullenly silent almost—half an Hour:                                                                        50
That, to vex her good Man, she took this Way to teaze him;
But soon left it off, when she found it would please him:
And vow’d, for the future, she’d make the House ring;
For when she was dumb, he did nothing but sing.

Quite tir’d with their Talking, I held down my Head:                                                      55
So she who sat next me, cry’d out, I was dead.
They call’d for cold Water to throw in my Face:
Give her Air, give her Air—and cut open her Lace.
Says good Neighbour Nevil, You’re out of your Wits;
She oft, to my Knowledge, has these sullen Fits:                                                                   60
Let her Husband come in, and make one Step that’s wrong,
My Life for’t, the Woman will soon find her Tongue.
You’ll soon be convinc’d—O’ my Conscience, he’s here—
Why what’s all this Rout?—Are you sullen, my Dear?

This struck them all silent; which gave me some Ease,                                               65
And made them imagine they’d got my Disease.
So they hasted away in a terrible Fright;
And left me, in Silence, to pass the long Night.

Not the Women alone were fear’d at my Fate;
’Twas reckon’d of dreadful Portent to the State.                                                                   70
When the Governors heard it, they greatly were troubled;
And, whilst I was silent, the Guards were all doubled:
The Militia Drums beat a perpetual Alarm,
To rouze up the Sons of the City to arm.
A Story was rumour’d about from Lambey,                                                                            75
Of a powerful Fleet, that was seen off at Sea.
With Horror all list to the terrible Tale;
The Barristers tremble, the Judges grow pale;
To the Castle the frighted Nobility fly;
And the Council were summon’d, they could not tell why;                                                  80
The Clergy in Crouds to the Churches repair;
And Armies, embattled, were seen in the Air.

Why they were in this Fright, I have lately been told,
It seems, it was sung by a Druid of old,
That the HANOVER Race to Great-Britain should come;                                                        85
And sit on the Throne, till a Woman grew dumb.

As soon as this Prophecy reach’d the Pretender,
He cry’d out, My Claim to the Crown I surrender.

 

NOTES:

fetter  “A restraint or check on someone’s freedom to act” (OED).

12  plagu’d  Plagued; “tormented” (OED);  ake  Ache.

16  Distemper  Ailment.

19  JOVE  Another name for Jupiter, Zeus’s counterpart in Roman mythology (New World Encyclopedia).

20  Avert  “Prevent or ward off” (OED);  Portent  “A sign or warning that a momentous or calamitous event is likely to happen” (OED).

23  Sapphira  Biblical reference to the wife of Ananias, “(Acts 5: 1–11); both died from shock when confronted by Peter about a case of fraud” (Oxford Reference).

26  Dame  “An elderly or mature woman” (OED).

27  Preacher Jesus.

 28  there was something new under the Sun  An inversion of  the biblical passage, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

31  beseech  “Ask (someone) urgently and fervently to do something” (OED).

34  give the Devil his Due  An idiom; “If someone or something generally considered bad or undeserving has any redeeming features these should be acknowledged” (OED).

36  Place  Position or place of work.

54  dumb  “Temporarily unable or unwilling to speak” (OED).

58  Lace  The cord or ribbon that laces up a woman’s corset.

64  Rout  “A disorderly or tumultuous crowd of people” (OED);  Sullen  “Bad-tempered and sulky” (OED).

75  Lambey  Lambay Island in the Irish Sea near Dublin.

77  list  Listen.

78  Barristers  Lawyers.

81  repair  “Go to (a place)” (OED).

84  Druid  “A priest, magician, or soothsayer in the ancient Celtic religion” (OED).

85  HANOVER Race  The British Royal house of Hanover (1714-1901) (Britannica).

87  the Pretender  “The Old Pretender,” James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales (1688-1766), son of King James II of England who reigned from 1685 to 1688 (Brittanica).

88  My Claim to the Crown I surrender  The Glorious Revolution (1688-89) saw James II deposed, replaced by William III and Mary II, and exiled to France. His son James, “The Old Pretender,” made several attempts to reclaim the British throne, but never succeeded (Brittanica).

Source:  Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 22–27. [Google Books]

 Edited by Laura Hannibal

Nicholas Amhurst, “To Mrs. Centlivre at that time dangerously ill”

[NICHOLAS AMHURST]

 “To Mrs. CENTLIVRE at that time dangerously ill”

 

Struck with a Passion for unhappy ROWE,
To whom so many finish’d Scenes we owe,
I paid my Tribute to his mighty Name,
A Stranger to his Person —— but by Fame:
The Man, but not the Author was unknown,                                                  5
Oft have I made his well-wrought Verse my own;
Oft have I wept his dying Hero’s Cause,
And shook the ecchoing Dome with loud Applause:
From hence alone my grateful Sorrows rise,
Hence the prompt Tears o’erflow my swelling Eyes;                                      10
But double Pangs thy mournful Bosom rend,
I lose the Poet only, you the Friend.
You knew the secret Virtues of his Heart,
How void it was of every treacherous Art;
Search’d the vast hidden Treasures of his Mind,                                            15
And weep in him the Loss to all Mankind.
GARTH follow’d soon, from the unsparing Grave,
Not his own Art his mortal Life could save!
Two Bards at once the Tyrant swept away,
To feed the Worm, and mix with vulgar Clay;                                                  20
Nor yet content, unbounded in his Rage,
Of THEE too he attempts to rob the Age.
Insulting Death! oh stop thy savage Hand,
Reverse, tremendous Power, the rash Command;
Already you have given us too much Grief,                                                      25
Be kind at last, and minister Relief;
Stop our forboding Tears, asswage our Pain,
And give CENTLIVRE back to Health again.

 NOTES:

Title  Centlivre  Susanna Centlivre (1669-1723), English poet, playwright, and actress.

1  Rowe  Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718), Poet Laureate (1715-1718), playwright and editor.

8  Dome  “A building, a house, a fabrick”  (Johnson).

11  Pangs  “A sudden access of keen feeling or emotion”  (OED).

12  You the friend  Centlivre and Rowe were frequent collaborators; both Centlivre and Amhurst dedicated tributes to Rowe in 1719.

14  Art  “Cunning”  (Johnson).

17  Garth  Samuel Garth (1661-1719), English poet and physician.

18  Art  “Skill in applying the principles of a special science”  (OED).

19  Bards  “A lyric or epic poet” (OED); here references to Rowe and Garth.

27  asswage  “Common form of assuage in 16-18thc.”  (OED).

Source:  Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1723), pp. 68-69.  [Google Books]

Edited by Jerry Andersen

Matthew Prior, “An English Padlock”

MATHEW PRIOR

“An English Padlock”

 

Miss Danae, when Fair and Young,
(As Horace has divinely sung)
Could not be kept from Jove’s Embrace
By Doors of Steel, and Walls of Brass.
The Reason of the Thing is clear,                                                       5
(Would Jove the naked Truth aver,)
Cupid was with him of the Party,
And show’d himself sincere and hearty:
For, give that Whipster but his Errand,
He takes my Lord Chief Justice’ Warrant;                                          10
Dauntless as Death away he walks,
Breaks the Doors open, snaps the Locks,
Searches the Parlour, Chamber, Study,
Nor stops ‘till he has his Culprit’s Body.

Since this has been Authentick Truth,                                         15
By Age deliver’d down to Youth;
Tell us, mistaken Husband, tell us,
Why so Mysterious, why so Jealous?
Does the Restraint, the Bolt, the Bar,
Make us less Curious, her less Fair?                                                    20
The Spy, who does this Treasure keep,
Does she ne’er say her Pray’rs, nor Sleep?
Does she to no Excess incline?
Does she fly Musick, Mirth and Wine?
Or have not Gold and Flatt’ry Pow’r,                                                     25
To purchase One unguarded Hour?

Your Care does further yet extend,
That Spy is guarded by your Friend.——
But has that Friend nor Eye, nor Heart?
May He not feel the cruel Dart                                                               30
Which, soon or late, all Mortals feel?
May He not, with too tender Zeal,
Give the Fair Pris’ner Cause to see,
How much He wishes, she were free?
May He not craftily infer                                                                           35
The Rules of Friendship too severe,
Which chain him to a hated Trust,
Which make him Wretched, to be Just?
And may not She, this Darling She,

Youthful and healthy, Flesh and Blood,                                            40
Easie with Him, ill us’d by Thee,
Allow this Logic to be good?

Sir, Will your Questions never end?
I trust to neither Spy nor Friend.
In short, I keep her from the Sight                                                             45
Of ev’ry Human Face.       —– She’ll write.—–
From Pen and Paper She’s debarr’d.—–
Has she a Bodkin and a Card?
She’ll prick her Mind: —– She will, you say;
But how shall She that Mind convey?                                                         50
I keep her in one Room, I lock it;
The Key, look here, is in this Pocket:
The Key-hole , is that left? Most certain,
She’ll thrust her Letter thro’,—–Sir Martin.

Dear angry Friend, what must be done?                                             55
Is there no Way?—– There is but one.
Send her abroad, and let her see,
That all this mingled Mass, which she
Being forbidden longs to know,
Is a dull Farce, an empty Show,                                                                    60
Powder, and Pocket-Glass, and Beau;
A Staple of Romance and Lies,
False Tears, and real Perjuries;
Where Sighs and Looks are bought and sold,
And Love is made but to be told;                                                                 65
Where the fat Bawd and lavish Heir
The Spoils of ruin’d Beauty share,
And Youth seduc’d from Friends and Fame
Must give up Age to Want and Shame.
Let her behold the Frantick Scene,                                                              70
The Women wretched, false the Men:
And when, these certain Ills to shun,
She would to thy Embraces run;
Receive her with extended Arms,
Seem more delighted with her Charms;                                                     75
Wait on her to the Park and Play,
Put on good Humour, make her gay;
Be to her Virtues very kind,
Be to her Faults a little blind;
Let all her Ways be unconfin’d,                                                                     80
And clap your Padlock —– on her Mind.

NOTES:

Title Padlock “A detachable lock” (OED).

1 Danae Greek mythological daughter of King Acrius of Argos and Queen Eurydice. Acrius had no sons to give his throne to and as Danae was childless he kept her locked in a tower to keep the prophecy that his grandson would kill him from coming true (“Danae,” greekmythology.com, accessed 7 August 2017).

2 Horace A Roman poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus who wrote about this myth in reference to Danae being locked away (“Horatii Flacci Opera,” books.google.com, accessed 7 August 2017).

3 Jove “A poetical equivalent of Jupiter” Danae was impregnated by Zeus in the tower (OED) (“Danae,” greekmythology.com, accessed 7 August 2017).

9 Whipster “A vague, mischievous, or contemptuous person” (OED).

20 Curious “Careful, attentive, concerned” (OED).

32 Zeal “Ardent love or affection” (OED).

48 Bodkin “A long pin or pin-shaped ornament used by women to fasten up the hair” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (1709), pp. 105-108. [HathiTrust]

Edited by Mimi Willmer