Tag Archives: Mary Leapor

Mary Leapor, “The Death of Abel”


“The Death of Abel”

When from the Shade of Eden’s blissful Bow’rs,
Its Fruit ambrosial and immortal Flow’rs,
Our gen’ral Mother (who too soon rebell’d,)
Was, with the Partner of her Crime, expell’d
To Fields less fruitful — where the rugged Soil                                            5
With Thorns and Thistles often paid their Toil;
Where the pale Flow’rs soon lost their chearful Hue,
And rushing Tempests o’er the Mountains flew:
Two Sons the Matron in her Exile bore,
Unlike in Feature but their Natures more;                                                  10
The eldest Youth for Husbandry renown’d,
Tore up the Surface of the steril Ground;
His nervous Arms for rugged Tasks were form’d;
His Cheek but seldom with a Smile adorn’d;
Drops rais’d by Labour down his Temples run,                                          15
His Temples tarnish’d by the mid-day Sun,
Robust of Body, and of Soul severe,
Unknown to Pity, and the like to Fear.

Not so his brother, cast in fairer Mold
Was he — and softer than his fleecy Fold;                                                   20
Fair were his Cheeks that blush’d with rosy Dye,
Peace dwelt for ever in his chearful Eye,
Nor Guilt, nor Rage his gentle Spirit knew;
Sweet were his Slumbers, for his Cares were few;
Those were to feed and watch the tender Lamb,                                      25
And seek fresh Pasture for its bleating Dam,
From burning Suns his thirsty Flocks to hide,
And seek the Vales where limpid Rivers glide.

‘Twas ere rude Hands had reap’d the waving Grain,
When Plenty triumph’d on the fertile Plain,                                               30
That to the Centre of a pleasant Down,
Where half was Pasture, half a plenteous Brown:
These Youths repair’d both emulous of Fame,
And rais’d an Altar to Jehovah’s Name,
With Heart elate and self-presuming Eye,                                                 35
First to the Pile unhappy Cain drew nigh.
Choice was his Off’ring, yet no Sign appear’d,
No Flame was seen, nor Voice celestial heard:
Astonish’d stood the late presumptuous Man,
Then came his Brother with a trembling Lamb;                                       40
His God accepts the Sacrifice sincere;
The Flames propitious round the Slain appear;
The curling Smoke ascended to the Skies:
This Cain beheld, and roll’d his glowing Eyes.
Stung to the Soul, he with his frantick Hand                                              45
A Stone up-rooted from the yielding Sand,
Nor spoke — for Rage had stop’d his failing Tongue;
This heavy Death impetuous whirl’d along:
This Abel met — his Heart receiv’d the Wound;
Amaz’d he fell, and grasp’d the bloody Ground.                                        50
The gentle Spirit sprung to endless Day,
And left behind her Case of beauteous Clay;
Pale stood the Brother — to a Statue chill’d,
A conscious Horror through his Bosom thrill’d:
His frighted Eyes abhorr’d the Beams of Light,                                         55
And long’d to find a never-ceasing Night.

      Shock’d at the Sight of Murder first begun,
Down the steep Heavens roll’d the radiant Sun,
Old Night assuming her appointed Sway,
Stretch’d her black Mantle o’er the Face of Day:                                      60
Now for their Leader mourn’d the bleating Lambs,
That rov’d neglected by their pensive Dams;
The careful Parents search the Fields around;
They call — the Woods roll back an empty Sound.

Within a Forest’s solitary Gloom,                                                            65
Slept gentle Abel in a secret Tomb,
And there (beneath a Cypress’ Shade reclin’d)
Cain breath’d his Sorrows to the rushing Wind:
That in the Branches made a doleful Sound;
‘Twas Silence else, and horrid Darkness round,                                        70
When lo ! a sudden and a piercing Ray
O’er-spread the Forest with a Blaze of Day,
And then descended on the hallow’d Ground,
A Seraph with empyreal Glory crown’d:
Afflicted Cain (that knew not where to fly)                                                  75
Gaz’d on the Vision with distracted Eye:
When thus the Angel — Why these mournful Cries,
These loud Complaints that pierce the nightly Skies.
Lye not to Heaven, but directly say,
Where roves thy Brother, where does Abel stray.                                      80
He said — and thus the guilty Wretch return’d;
O sacred Guardian, I for Abel mourn’d:
I ne’er beheld him since the Day began, —-
But why this Visit to a simple Man?
Thus the Celestial —- Wretch, canst thou presume,                                   85
Thy Brother’s Blood may slumber in its Tomb:
Or thou may’st ward off Vengeance with a Lye,
And dare attempt deceiving God most high;
But now thy Doom, O wretched Mortal hear;
The fleeting Hours nor the rolling Year,                                                        90
To thee nor Joy, nor chearful Ease shall bring:
Alike to thee the Winter and the Spring,
Still vex’d with Woe, thy heavy Days shall fly
Beneath a radiant or a gloomy Sky:
Curs’d shalt thou be amidst thy vagrant Band,                                            95
And curs’d the Labours of thy guilty Hand:
He ceas’d — But Cain all prostrate on the Ground,
Still in his Ears retain’d the dreadful Sound:
At length he rose, and trembling thus began;
This is too much — too much for Mortal Man:                                              100
The mighty Debt, O let me quickly pay,
And sweep me instant from the Beams of Day:
The yet unborn, that I am curs’d, shall know,
And all shall hate me to augment the Blow:
Ev’n my own Sons, if such are giv’n to be                                                      105
The Death of Abel, shall revenge on me:
Thus he to change the dreadful Sentence try’d,
Thus the seraphick Messenger reply’d;
This Mark, O Cain, I fix upon thy Brow:
And thus by Heav’n’s mighty Monarch vow,                                                 110
Who sheds thy Blood, that Criminal shall be
Curs’d – Sev’n times curs’d, and wretched more than thee.
Thus be that Mortal who shall tear the Rod
Of scorching Vengeance from the Hand of God;
That Man may learn to fear the King of Kings:                                              115
He said – and waving his immortal Wings,
That instant mingled with the starry Train,
And Darkness wrap’d the silent Shades again.


3 Our gen’ral Mother Eve.

4 the Partner of her Crime Adam.

9 Two Sons Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, and Abel, his younger brother (OCB).

34  Jehovah “Name of God” (OCB).

40 Lamb A typical sacrificial animal in Ancient Egypt, often symbolically associated with Jesus (OCB).

74 Seraph A supernatural being associated with the presence of God (OCB).

109 This Mark See Genesis 4:15; the exact nature of Cain’s mark is mysterious, but Leapor follows the tradition that associates the mark with divine protection.

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1748), pp. 232-237. [Google Books]

Edited by Lourdes Alcala-Guerrero

Mary Leapor, “An Essay on Woman”


An Essay on Woman”


Woman—a pleasing, but a short-liv’d Flow’r,
Too soft for Business, and too weak for Pow’r:
A Wife in Bondage, or neglected Maid;
Despis’d, if ugly; if she’s fair—betray’d.
‘Tis Wealth alone inspires ev’ry Grace,                                                   5
And calls the Raptures to her plenteous Face.
What Numbers for those charming Features pine,
If blooming Acres round her Temples twine?
Her Lip the Strawberry; and her Eyes more bright
Than sparkling Venus in a frosty Night.                                                  10
Pale Lilies fade; and when the Fair appears,
Snow turns a Negro, and dissolves in Tears.
And where the Charmer treads her magic Toe,
On English Ground Arabian Odours grow;
Till mighty Hymen lists his sceptred Rod,                                               15
And sinks her Glories with a fatal Nod;
Dissolves her Triumphs; sweeps her Charms away,
And turns the Goddess to her native Clay.

But, Artemisia, let your Servant sing
What small Advantage Wealth and Beauties bring.                              20
Who would be wise, that knew Pamphilia’s Fate?
Or who be fair, and join’d to Sylvia’s Mate?
Sylvia, whose Cheeks are fresh as early Day;
As Ev’ning mild, and sweet as spicy May:
And yet That Face her partial Husband tires,                                         25
And those bright Eyes, that all the World admires.
Pamphilia’s Wit who does not strive to shun,
Like Death’s Infection, or a Dog-Day’s Sun?
The Damsels view her with malignant Eyes:
The Men are vex’d to find a Nymph so wise:                                          30
And Wisdom only serves to make her know
The keen Sensation of superior Woe.
The secret Whisper, and the list’ning Ear,
The scornful Eyebrow, and the hated Sneer;
The giddy Censures of her babbling Kind,                                              35
With thousand Ills that grate a gentle Mind,
By her are tasted in the first Degree,
Tho’ overlook’d by Simplicus, and me.
Does Thirst of Gold a Virgin’s Heart inspire,
Instill’d by Nature, or a careful Sire?                                                         40
Then let her quit Extravagance and Play;
The brisk Companion; and expensive Tea;
To feast with Cordia in her filthy Sty
On stew’d Potatoes, or on mouldy Pye;
Whose eager Eyes stare ghastly at the Poor,                                          45
And fright the Beggars from her hated Door:
In greasy Clouts she wraps her smoky Chin,
And holds, that Pride’s a never-pardon’d Sin.

If this be Wealth, no matter where it falls;
But save, ye Muses, save your Mira’s Walls:                                             50
Still give me pleasing Indolence, and Ease;
A Fire to warm me, and a Friend to please.

Since, whether sunk in Avarice, or Pride;
A wanton Virgin, or a starving Bride;
Or, wond’ring Crouds attend her charming Tongue;                             55
Or deem’d an Idiot, ever speaks the Wrong:
Tho’ Nature arm’d us for the growing Ill,
With fraudful Cunning, and a headstrong Will;
Yet, with ten thousand Follies to her Charge,
Unhappy Woman’s but a Slave at large.                                                   60


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

10 Venus Here a reference to the evening star.

12 Negro “A member of a dark-skinned group of peoples originally native to sub-Saharan Africa; a person of black African origin or descent. Early use also applied to other dark-skinned peoples” (OED).

15 Hymen The God of marriage in Greek myth.

18 Clay That is, her original human form.

19 Artemisia A pseudonym for Leapor’s friend and patron, Bridget Freemantle.

28 Dog-Day’s “The hottest part of the summer” (OED).

32 Woe “A state or condition of misery, suffering, or emotional distress; misfortune, trouble” (OED).

35 Censures “Expression of disapproval or condemnation” (OED).

36 grate “To affect painfully,…irritate” (OED).

38 Simplicus Conventional name for a rustic or simple man.

43 Sty “A human habitation…no better than a pigsty” (OED).

50 Mira Leapor’s poetic name for herself; Walls Defenses (OED).

53 Avarice “Inordinate desire of acquiring and hoarding wealth” (OED).

54 wanton “Lustful; not chaste, sexually promiscuous” (OED).

59 Follies Foolish actions, ideas, practices (OED).

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1751), pp. 64-67. [Internet Archive]

Edited by Alexis Kleinberg


Mary Leapor, “The Temple of Love”


“The Temple of Love”


 When lonely Night compos’d the drowsy Mind,
And hush’d the Bosom of the weary Hind,
Pleas’d with plain Nature and with simple Life,
I read the Scenes of Shore’s deluded Wife,
Till my faint Spirits sought a silent Bed,                                            5
And on its Pillow drop’d my aking Head;
Then Fancy ever to her Mira kind,
Prepar’d her Phantoms for the roving Mind.

Behold a Fabrick rising from the Ground,
To the soft Timbrel and the Cittern’s Sound:                                   10
Corinthian Pillars the vast Building hold,
Of polish’d Silver and Peruvian Gold;
In four broad Arches spread the shining Doors,
The blazing Roofs enlighten all the Floors:
Beneath a sparkling Canopy that shone                                           15
With Persian Jewels, like a Morning Sun
Wrap’d in a Robe of purest Tyrian Dye,
Cythera’s Image met the ravish’d Eye,
Whose glowing Features wou’d in Paint beguile:
So well the Artist drew her mimick Smile;                                        20
Her shining Eyes confess’d a sprightly Joy;
Upon her Knees reclin’d her wanton Boy;
On the bright Walls, around her and above,
Were drawn the Statutes and the Arts of Love:
These taught the silent Language of the Eye,                                   25
The broken Whisper and amusing Lye;
The careless Glance peculiar to the Fair,
And Vows for Lovers, that dissolve in Air;
The graceful Anger, and the rolling Eyes;
The practis’d Blush and counterfeit Surprise,                                   30
The Language proper for pretending Swains;
And fine Description for imagin’d Pains;
The friendly Caution and designing Ease,
And all the Arts that ruin while they please.

Now entred, follow’d by a splendid Train,                                   35
A blooming Damsel and a wealthy Swain;
The gaudy Youth in shining Robes array’d,
Behind him follow’d the unthinking Maid:
Youth in her Cheek like op’ning Roses sprung,
Her careless Tresses on her Shoulders hung.                                    40
Her Smiles were chearful as enliv’ning May;
Her Dress was careless, and her Eyes were gay;
Then to soft Voices and melodious Sound
The Board was spread, the sparkling Glasses crown’d:
The sprightly Virgin in a Moment shines                                              45
In the gay Entrails of the eastern Mines;
Then Pride comes in with Patches for the Fair,
And spicy Odours for her curling Hair:
Rude Riot in a crimson Vest array’d,
With smooth-fac’d Flatt’ry like a Chamber-maid:                                50
Soft Pomp and Pleasure at her Elbow stand,
And Folly shakes the Rattles in her Hand.

But now her feeble Structure seem’d to shake,
Its Basis trembl’d and its Pillars quake;
Then rush’d Suspicion through the lofty Gate,                                   55
With heart-fick Loathing led by ghastly Hate;
And foaming Rage, to close the horrid Band,
With a drawn Poniard in her shaking Hand.
Now like an Earthquake shook the reeling Frame,
The Lamps extinguish in a purple Flame:                                            60
One universal Groan was heard, and then
The Cries of Women and the Voice of Men:
Some roar out Vengeance, some for Mercy call;
And Shrieks and Tumult fill the dreadful Hall.

At length the Spectres vanish’d from my Sight,                            65
Again the Lamps resum’d a feeble Light;
But chang’d the Place: No Splendor there was shown,
But gloomy Walls that Mirth had never known;
For the gay Dome where Pleasure us’d to dwell,
Appear’d an Abbey and a doleful Cell;                                                    70
And here the sad, the ruin’d Nymph was found,
Her Robe disorder’d and her Locks unbound,
While from her Eyes the pearly Drops of Woe,
Wash’d her pale Cheek where Roses us’d to blow:
Her blue and trembling Lips prepar’d to breathe                                 75
The Sighs that made her swelling Bosom heave;
Thus stupid with her Grief she sat and prest
Her lily Hands across her pensive Breast;
A Group of ghastly Phantoms stood behind,
Whose Task it is to wreck the guilty Mind:                                              80
Wide-mouth’d Reproach with Visage rude and thin,
And hissing Scandal made a hideous Din;
Remorse that darted from her deadly Wings,
Invenom’d Arrows and a thousand Stings:
Then with pale Cheeks and with a ghastly Stare,                                   85
Peep’d o’er her Shoulder hollow-ey’d Despair;
Whose Hand extended bore a bleeding Heart,
And Death behind her shook his threat’ning Dart:
These Forms with Horror fill’d my aking Breast,
And from my Eye-lids drove the Balm of Rest;                                        90
I woke and found old Night her Course had run,
And left her Empire to the rising Sun.


 4  Scenes of Shore’s deluded Wife  A reference to The Tragedy of Jane Shore (1714), a play by Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718) based on the life an intrigues of Elizabeth (“Jane”) Shore (c. 1445-c. 1557), a mistress of King Edward IV.

9  Fabrick  “A building” (OED).

10  Timbrel  “An instrument of the percussion family” (OED); Cittern “An instrument of the lute family” (OED).

11 Corinthian Pillars  “The name of one of the three Grecian [architectural] orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian), of which it is the lightest and most ornate” (OED).

17  Tyrian Dye  Alludes to “the purple or crimson dye anciently made at Tyre from certain molluscs” (OED).

18  Cythera  A reference to Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love who, according to legend, was born on the island of Cythera.

19  beguile  “Deceive” (OED).

22  wanton Boy  Cupid.

64  Tumult  “Commotion leading to a riot” (OED).

69  Dome  “A stately building” (OED).

70  doleful  “Sorrowful” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1748), pp. 162-66.  [Google Books]

 Edited by Angela Vu



Mary Leapor, “The Fox and the Hen. A Fable”


“The Fox and the Hen. A Fable”


‘Twas on a fair and healthy Plain,
There liv’d a poor but honest Swain,
Had to his Lot a little Ground,
Defended by a quick-set Mound:
‘Twas there he milk’d his brindled Kine,                               5
And there he fed his harmless Swine:
His Pigeons flutter’d to and fro,
And bask’d his Poultry in a Row:
Much we might say of each of these,
As how his Pigs in Consort wheeze;                                      10
How the sweet Hay his Heifers chew,
And how the Pigeons softly coo:
But we shall wave this motley Strain,
And keep to one that’s short and plain:
Nor paint the Dunghill’s feather’d King,                               15
For of the Hen we mean to sing.

A Hen there was, a strange one too,
Cou’d sing (believe me, it is true)
Or rather (as you may persume)
Wou’d prate and cackle in a Tune:                                         20
This quickly spread the Pullet’s Fame,
And Birds and Beasts together came:
All mixt in one promiscuous Throng,
To visit Partlet and her Song.
It chanc’d there came amongst the Crew,                             25
Of witty Foxes not a few:
But one more smart than all the rest,
His serious Neighbour thus addrest:
“What think you of this Partlet here?
‘Tis true her Voice is pretty clear:                                            30
Yet without pausing I can tell,
In what much more she wou’d excel:
Methinks she’d eat exceeding well.”
This heard the list’ning Hen, as she
Sat perch’d upon a Maple-tree.                                               35

The shrewd Proposal gall’d her Pride,
And thus to Reynard she reply’d:
“Sir , you’re extremely right I vow,
But how will you come at me now?
You dare not mount this lofty Tree,                                        40
So there I’m pretty safe, you see.
From long ago, (or Record lies)
You Foxes have been counted wise:
But sure this Story don’t agree
With your Device of eating me.                                               45
For you, Dame Fortune still intends
Some coarser Food than singing Hens:
Besides e’er you can reach so high.
Remember you must learn to fly.

I own ‘tis but a scurvy way,
You have as yet to seize your Prey,                                       50
By sculking from the Beams of Light,
And robbing Hen-roosts in the Night:
Yet you must keep this vulgar Trade
Of thieving till your Wings are made.

Had I the keeping of you tho’,                                        55
I’d make your subtle Worship know,
We Chickens are your Betters due,
Not fatted up for such as you:
Shut up in Cub with rusty Chain,
I’d make you lick your Lips in vain:                                        60
And take a special Care, be sure,
No Pullet shou’d come near your Door:
But try if you cou’d feed or no,
Upon a Kite or Carrion Crow.”
Here ceas’d the Hen. The baffl’d Beast                                 65
March’d off without his promis’d Feast.


4 quick-set Mound Likely a raised boundary “formed of living plants, esp. thorny ones such as hawthorne” (OED).

15 the Dunghill’s feather’d King A rooster, or “cock.”

21 Pullet “A young domestic hen” (OED).

23 Throng “A large densely packed gathering of people or animals” (OED).

24 Partlet “A name traditionally applied to a hen” (OED).

37 Reynard “A proper name applied traditionally (chiefly in literature) to a fox” (OED).

59 Cub “A stall, pen, or shed” for farm animals (OED).

64 Kite “A bird of prey” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1748), pp. 97-100. [Google Books]

Edited by Josh Hernandez


Mary Leapor, “The Power of Beauty”


“The Power of Beauty”

O Goddess of eternal Smiles,
Bright Cythera the fair,
Who taught Sabina’s pleasing Wiles,
By which she won Bellair.

Bellair, the witty and the vain,                                                5
Who laugh’d at Beauty’s Pow’r;
But now the conquer’d humble Swain
Adores a painted Flow’r.

With Delia’s Art my Song inspire,
Whose Lips of rosy Hue                                                   10
Can ne’er the partial Audience tire,
Tho’ wiser Claudia’s do.

Tho’ Claudia’s Wit and Sense refin’d,
Flows easy from her Tongue;
Her Soul but coarsely is enshrin’d,                                        15
So Claudia’s in the wrong.

Hark, Delia speaks—that blooming Fair,
See Crowds are gathering round
With open Mouths: and wildly stare
To catch the empty Sound.                                               20

See Lelia with a Judgement clear,
With manly Wisdom blest;
Wit, Learning, Prudence, all appear
In that unruffled Breast.

But yet no Beau for Lelia dies,                                                  25
No Sonnets pave her way;
Say, Muse, from whence these Evils rise,
Why Lelia’s Teeth decay.

Then, why do rev’rend Sages rail
At Woman’s wanton Pride?                                                30
If Wisdom, Wit, and Prudence fail,
Let meaner Arts be try’d.

Those Arts to please are only meant;
But with an angry Frown,
The Queen of Wisdom lately sent                                             35
This Proclamation down:

Minerva, with the azure Eyes,
And thus the Statute runs,
If you wou’d have your Daughters wise,
Take care to mend your Sons.                                             40


2 Cythera Venus, the goddess of love (OED).

3 Sabina’s This and subsequent names at lines 9, 12, and 21 were common women’s names in pastoral poetry.

7 Swain A shepherd in pastoral poetry.

29 Sages Men of “profound wisdom” (OED).

30 wanton “Reckless” (OED).

35 Queen of Wisdom Minerva, the goddess of wisdom (OED).

Source:  Poems upon Several Occasions (London, 1748), pp. 229-231. [Google Books]

Edited by Liliana Marusic

Mary Leapor, “Nature undone by Art”


“NATURE undone by ART”


WHEN first Alexis bless’d our wond’ring Eyes,
Like some young De’ty of the pregnant Skies;
His blooming Form by Nature richly dress’d;
Nor purple Crime had stain’d his iv’ry Breast:
His pleasing Voice diffus’d a gen’ral Joy,                                                5
And list’ning Virgins bless’d the charming Boy.
His just Reflections, while they taught, allur’d;
His Smiles were harmless, and his Language pure:
He learn’d with Pleasure, and he taught with Ease:
Whate’er Alexis did, was sure to please.                                                10
Gorgonian Malice found a soothing Charm;
No envious Tongue could wish Alexis Harm:
For thrifty Nature, like a partial Mother,
To form one lovely Image, strips another;
And makes the beauteous Darling of her Breast                                  15
Perfection only, while she starves the rest.
On this gay Youth she lavish’d all her Pride,
Till he, ingrateful, wander’d from her Side:
Then polish’d Art, with her affected Train
Of glitt’ring Shadows, won the cheated Swain;                                      20
Dissimulation roll’d her leering Eyes,
With courteous Knavery, and well-bred Lyes;
Affectation, Pride; a motly Throng;
And smiling Flatt’ry, with her silver Tongue:
These taught those once engaging Eyes to roll,                                     25
And cast Pollution on his tainted Soul.
In his dark Breast tumultuous Passions rise,
Where guilty Flame and smother’d Hatred lies.
Now the chang’d Idiot can his Rhet’ric spend
To praise a Coxcomb, or deceive his Friend.                                          30
His Heart, whence Truths eternal us’d to spring,
Where Honour reign’d as undisputed King,
Is now a Dungeon for the Dregs of Sin.
Deceit, Ingratitude, and Av’rice, now
Have stain’d the Whiteness of his alter’d Brow:                                     35
Not worth our Pity, and below Disdain;
We look with Loathing, and we hear with Pain.


4 purple “Of the colour of blood; bloody” (OED).

11 Gorgonian Malice “Of or pertaining to the malevolence of the three mythical female personages, with snakes for hair, whose look turned the beholder into stone” (OED).

21 Dissimulation “Concealment of what really is, under a feigned semblance of something different; feigning, hypocrisy” (OED).

24 silver Tongue “A tendency to be eloquent and persuasive in speaking” (OED).

30 Coxcomb “A vain, conceited, or pretentious man; a man of ostentatiously affected
mannerisms or appearance; a fop” (OED).

33 Dregs “Residue” (OED).

Source:  Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1751), pp. 98-100.  [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Beck Serna

Mary Leapor, “On Sickness”


“On Sickness”


WHEN Heav’n’s almighty King prepares,
The angry Shaft to throw;
Ev’n Fortitude itself despairs
To bear the deadly Blow.

Cold Tremors shake each fainting Limb,                                  5
That weeps a sickly Dew;
The Features, chang’d to pale and dim,
Resign their cheerful Hue.

No more soft Eloquence shall flow,
Nor dress the silent Tongue;                                               10
But the dull Heart refuse to glow,
Tho’ charm’d by melting Song.

Those laughing Eyes, that lately shone
So sprightly and so gay,
Sunk down with Sickness, faint and wan,                                  15
Decline the piercing Day.

And scarcely bear a cheerful Beam,
To light the drooping Soul;
While round the weak afflicted Brain
Romantick Vapours roll.                                                          20

Deceitful Earth and all its Joys
Elude our grasping Hands:
Tho’ Nature all her Skill employs,
To bind the failing Bands.

Death drives us to the horrid Steep;                                             25
And while we vainly mourn,
He pointing shews th’ unmeasur’d Deep,
From whence we ne’er return.

There the grim Spectre, with a Smile,
His panting Victim fees:                                                             30
Who fain wou’d linger here a while,
To swallow nauseous Lees.

Who Death’s great Empire wou’d dispute,
And hugs the gilded Pill,
Not knowing That his faithful Mute,                                                35
Whose Business is to kill.

The lost, the slipp’ry Hold to save,
To lenient Arts we run;
They cast us headlong on the Wave,
And we are twice undone.                                                          40

The Pow’r who stamp’d the reas’ning Mind,
Its Partner can restore;
There we a lasting Cordial find,
And learn to sigh no more.

But if the slow-consuming Ill                                                               45
Shou’d lead us to the Grave,
Our Faith persuades us that he will
The trembling Spirit save.

O thou, whose Bounty all things taste,
Whose Anger none can bear;                                                        50
Revive the melancholy Breast,
Nor let the Wretch despair.


6 Dew  “Perspiration, sweat” (OED).

8  Hue  “External appearance of the face and skin, complexion,” color (OED).

15 wan  “Lacking light, or lustre” (OED).

20 Romantick “Fantastic, extravagant, quixotic” (OED).

29 Spectre  “An apparition, phantom, or ghost” (OED).

32 Lees  “Basest part, ‘dregs’, ‘refuse’” (OED).

38 lenient Arts Here a reference to gentle, or “soothing” medical practices (OED).

43 Cordial “A medicine, food or beverage which invigorates the heart and stimulates the circulation” (OED).

Source:  Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1748), pp. 263-266. [Google Books]  

Edited by Kaitlan Gomez  

Mary Leapor, “The Charms of Anthony”


“The Charms of Anthony”


YE Swains, attend; let ev’ry Nymph be near;
Be still, ye Rivers, that the Swains may hear:
Ye Winds, be calm, and brush with softer Wing,
We mean the Charms of Anthony to sing;
See all around the list’ning Shepherds throng;                                      5
O help, ye Sisters of immortal song.


Sing, Phebe, sing what Shepherd rules the Plain,
Young Colin‘s Envy, and Aminda‘s Pain:
Whom none can rival when he mows the Field,
And to whose Flute the Nightingale must yield.                                    10


‘Tis Anthony — ’tis he deserves the Lay,
As mild as Ev’ning, and as Morning gay;
Not the fresh Blooms on yonder Codling-tree,
Not the white Hawthorn half so fair as he;
Nor the young Daisy dress’d in Morning Dew;                                     15
Nor the Pea Blossom wears a brighter Hue.


None knows like him to strew the wheaten Grain,
Or drive the Plough-share o’er the fertile Plain;
To raise the Sheaves, or reap the waving Corn,
Or mow brown Stubble in the early Morn.                                             20


How mild the Youth, when on a sultry Day
In yonder Vale we turn’d the fragrant Hay:
How on his Voice the list’ning Shepherds hung,
Not tuneful Stella half so sweetly sung.


Whether he binds the Sheaf in twisted Band,                                25
Or turns the Pitch-fork on his nimble Hand;
He’s sure to win a Glance from ev’ry Eye,
While clumsy Colin stands neglected by.


His curling Locks by far more lovely shew,
Than the white Wig on Squire Fopling‘s Brow;                                      30
And when the Shepherd on a rainy Day,
Weaves for his Hat a Wisp of flow’ry Hay,
The scarlet Feather not so gay appears,
Which on his Crown Sir Ambrose Fino wears.


For Anthony Meriah leaves her Cow,                                               35
And stands to gape at him upon the Mow:
While he (for who but must that Wench despise?)
Throws Straws and Cobwebs on her staring Eyes.


To the Back-door I saw proud Lydia hie,
To see the Team with Anthony go by;                                                     40
He slily laugh’d, and turn’d him from the Door,
I thought the Damsel would have spoke no more.


Me once he met, ’twas when from yonder Vale,
Each Morn I brought the heavy milking Pail:
He took it from my Head, and with a Smile                                           45
Reach’d out his Hand, and help’d me o’er the Stile.


As I was dancing late amongst the Crew,
A yellow Pippin o’er my Head he threw:
Sue bit her Lips, and Barbaretta frown’d;
And Phillis look’d as tho’ she wou’d have swoon’d.                               50

Thus sung the Maids till Colinet came by,
And Rodrigo from weeding of the Rye;
Each took his Lass, and sped ’em to the Town,
To drink cool Cider at the Hare and Hound:
The Damsels simper like the sparkling Beer,                                         55
And Colin shines till Anthony is near.


1 Swain  “A country or farm labourer, frequently a shepherd; a country lover”; Nymph  “Spirits… taking the form of a maiden inhabiting the sea, rivers, mountains, woods, trees, etc.; a beautiful young woman” (OED).

6 Sisters of immortal song The Muses of Greek mythology: “Each of the nine goddesses regarded as presiding over and inspiring learning and the arts” (OED).

7 Phebe This and other names used in the poem are stereotypical names used in pastoral verse.

10 Nightingale In poetry, a symbol of “melodious song” (OED).

13 Codling-tree A kind of apple tree.

18 Plough-share “The large pointed blade of a plough” (OED).

19 Sheaves “Large bundles in which it is usual to bind cereal plants after reaping” (OED).

30 Fopling Variation of “fop,” “a foolish person; one who is foolishly attentive to and vain of his appearance, dress, or manners” (OED).

36 Mow “A heap of grain or hay in a barn” (OED).

39 hie “Haste, speed” (OED).

46 Stile Steps or rungs allowing “passage over or through a fence, while forming a barrier to the passage of sheep or cattle” (OED).

48 A yellow Pippin o’er my Head he threw  A variation on the custom in ancient Greece in which “apples were presented to sweethearts as a proffer or declaration of love…oftentimes apples were tossed or thrown” in this context (McCartney, “How the Apple Became the Token of Love,” p. 70).

54 Hare and Hound A tavern or pub, possibly alluding to a passage in Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which Phoebus and Daphne are figured as hound and hare respectively (Book I, ll. 521-525).

55 simper “To glimmer, shimmer, twinkle” (OED).

Source:  Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1748), pp. 249-252.  [Google Books]

Edited by Angel Johnson

Mary Leapor, “A Summer’s Wish”


“A Summer’s Wish”


My Guardian, bear me on thy downy Wing
To some cool Shade where infant Flow’rs spring;
Where on the Trees sweet Hony-suckles blow,
And ruddy Daisies paint the Ground below :
Where the shrill Linnet charms the solemn Shade,                                         5
And Zephyrs pant along the cooler Glade,
Or shake the Bull-rush by a River Side,
While the gay Sun-beams sparkle on the Tide:
O for some Grot whose rustick Sides declare,
Ease, and not Splendor, was the Builder’s Care;                                               10
Where Roses spread their unaffected Charms,
And the curl’d Vine extends their clasping Arms;
Where happy Silence lulls the quiet Soul,
And makes it calm as Summer Waters roll.
Here let me learn to check each growing Ill,                                                       15
And bring to Reason disobedient Will;
To watch this incoherent Breast, and find
What fav’rite Passions rule the giddy Mind.

Here no Reproaches grate the wounded Ear;
We see delighted, and transported hear,                                                            20
While the glad Warblers wanton round the Trees,
And the still Waters catch the dying Breeze,
Grief waits without, and melancholy Gloom:
Come, cheerful Hope, and fill the vacant Room;
Come ev’ry Thought, which Virtue gave to please;                                            25
Come smiling Health with thy Companion Ease:
Let these, and all that Virtue’s self attends,
Bless the still Hours of my gentle Friends:
Peace to my Foes, if any such there be,
And gracious Heav’n give Repose to me.                                                             30


1 downy “Covered in fine, soft hair or feathers” (OED).

5 Linnet “A common and well-known song-bird” (OED).

6 Zephyrs Gentle breezes.

7 Bull-rush “A tall reed-like water plant with strap-like leaves and a dark brown velvety cylindrical head of numerous tiny flowers” (OED).

30 Repose “Give rest to” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1748), p. 21. [Google Books]

Edited by Krishna Manne

Mary Leapor, “The Beauties of the Spring”


“The Beauties of the Spring”


Hail happy Shades, and hail thou cheerful Plain,
Where Peace and Pleasure unmolested reign;
And the cool Rivers murmur as they flow:
See yellow Crowfoots deck the gaudy Hills,                          5
While the faint Primrose loves the purling Rills:
Sagacious Bees their Labours now renew,
Hum round the Blossoms, and extract their Dew:
In their Liv’ries the green Woods appear,
And smiling Nature decks the Infant Year;                             10
See yon proud Elm that shines in borrow’d Charms,
While the curl’d Woodbines deck her aged Arms.

When the streak’d East receives a lighter Gray,
And Larks prepare to meet the early Day;
Through the glad bowers the shrill Anthems run,                   15
While the Groves glitter to the rising Sun:
Then Phillis hastens to her darling Cow,
Whose shining Tresses wanton on her Brow,
While to her Cheek enliv’ning Colours fly,
And Health and Pleasure sparkle in her Eye.                          20
Unspoil’d by Riches, nor with Knowledge vain,
Contented Cymon whistles o’er the Plain;
His Flock dismisses from the nightly Fold,
Observes their Health, and fees their Number told.
Pleas’d with its Being, see the nimble Fawn                           25
Sports in the Grove, or wantons o’er the Lawn,
While the pleas’d Coursers frolick out the Day,
And the dull Ox affects unwieldy Play.

Then haste, my Friend, to yonder Sylvan Bowers,
Where Peace and Silence crown the blissful Hours;               30
In those still Groves no martial Clamours sound;
No streaming Purple stains the guiltless Ground;
But fairer Scenes our ravish’d Eyes employ,
Give a soft Pleasure, and quiet Joy;
Grief flies from hence, and wasting Cares subside,                35
While wing’d with Mirth the laughing Minutes glide.
See, my fair Friend, the painted Shrubs are gay,
And round thy Head ambrosial Odours play;
At Sight of thee the swelling Buds expand,
And op’ning Roses seem to court thy Hand;                          40
Hark, the shrill Linnet charms the distant Plain,
And Philomel replies with softer Strain;
See those bright Lilies shine with milky Hue,
And those Fair Cowslips drop with balmy Dew;
To thee, my fair, the cheerful Linnet sings,                             45
And Philomela warbles o’er the Springs;
For thee those Lilies paint the fertile Ground,
And those fair Cowslips are with Nectar crown’d;
Here let us rest to shun the scorching Ray,
While curling Zephyrs in the Branches play.                           50
In these calm Shades no ghastly Woe appears,
No Cries of Wretches stun our frighted Ears;
Here no gloss’d Hate, no sainted Wolves are seen,
Nor busy Faces throng the peaceful Green;
But Fear and Sorrow leave the careful Breast,                        55
And the glad Soul sinks happily to Rest.


5  Crowfoot  “A name for various species of Ranunculus or Buttercup” (OED).

6  Primrose  “An early flowering European primula” (OED).

11  yon  “A demonstrative word used in concord with a noun to indicate a person or thing” (OED).

12  Woodbines  Name for a climbing plant.

14  Larks  “A name generally used for any bird in the family of alaudidae” (OED).

18  Tresses  Braids on a woman.

22  Cymon  A swain, or young man.

 25  nimble  Quick.

27 Coursers  Horses.

29  Sylvan  “Consisting of or formed by woods or trees” (OED).

32 Purple A reference to blood.

42  Philomel  “A poetic/literary name for the nightingale” (OED).

50  Zephyrs  God of the west wind.

Source: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1748), p. 15. [Google Books]

 Edited by Samantha Yankiling