Tag Archives: occasional poem

Mary Jones, “After the Small Pox”


“After the Small Pox”


When skillful traders first set up,
To draw the people to their shop,
They strait hang out some gaudy sign,
Expressive of the goods within.
The Vintner has his boy and grapes,                                      5
The Haberdasher thread and tapes,
The Shoemaker exposes boots,
And Monmouth Street old tatter’d suits.

So fares it with the nymph divine;
For what is Beauty but a Sign?                                                10
A face hung out, thro’ which is seen
The nature of the goods within.

Thus the coquet her beau ensnares
With study’d smiles, and forward airs:
The graver prude hangs out a frown                                      15
To strike th’ audacious gazer down;
But she alone, whose temp’rate wit
Each nicer medium can hit,
Is still adorn’d with ev’ry grace,
And wears a sample in her face.                                              20

What tho’ some envious folks have said,
That Stella now must hide her head,
That all her stock of beauty’s gone,
And ev’n the very sign took down:
Yet grieve not at the fatal blow;                                               25
For if you break a while, we know,
‘Tis bankrupt like, more rich to grow.
A fairer sign you’ll soon hang up,
And with fresh credit open shop:
For nature’s pencil soon shall trace,                                        30
And once more finish off your face,
Which all your neighbours shall out-shine,
And of your Mind remain the Sign.


 Title Small Pox A virulent disease. In eighteenth-century Europe, 400,000 people died annually of smallpox, and one third of the survivors went blind. Most survivors were left with disfiguring scars (Barquet, Nicolau, and Pere Domingo, “Smallpox: The Triumph over the Most Terrible of the Ministers of Death,” pp. 635-642).

6 Haberdasher “A dealer in small articles appertaining to dress, as thread, tape, ribbons, etc.” (OED).

8 Monmouth Street old tatter’d suits Monmouth Street was famous for its old clothes shops (Weinreb, et al, The London Encyclopaedia, 3rd edition,  p. 557).

9 nymph divine “Any of a class of semi-divine spirits, imagined as taking the form of a maiden inhabiting the sea, rivers, mountains” (OED).

13 coquet “A woman who trifles with men’s affections; a woman given to flirting or coquetry” (OED).

22 Stella Name used by Jones to refer to her friend, Charlot Clayton, in several of her poems (Kennedy, Poetic Sisters, p. 170).

Source: Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (Oxford, 1750), pp. 79-80. [Google Books]

Edited by Elizabeth Holt

Ann Yearsley, “On Mrs. Montagu”




Why boast, O arrogant, imperious man,
Perfection so exclusive? are thy powers
Nearer approaching Deity? can’st thou solve
Questions which Infinity propounds,
Soar nobler flights, or dare immortal deeds,                                                         5
Unknown to woman, if she greatly dares
To use the powers assign’d her? Active strength,
The boast of animals, is clearly thine;
By this upheld, thou think’st the lesson rare
That female virtues teach; and poor the height                                                    10
Which female wit obtains. The theme unfolds
Its ample maze, for MONTAGU befriends
The puzzled thought, and, blazing in the eye
Of boldest Opposition, strait presents
The soul’s best energies, her keenest powers,                                                      15
Clear, vigorous, enlighten’d; with firm wing
Swift she o’ertakes his Muse, which spread afar
Its brightest glories in the days of yore;
Lo! where she, mounting, spurns the stedfast earth,
And, sailing on the cloud of science, bears                                                              20
The banner of Perfection. —————-
Ask GALLIA’S mimic sons how strong her powers,
Whom, flush’d with plunder from her SHAKESPEARE’S page,
She swift detects amid their dark retreats;
(Horrid as CACUS in their thievish dens)                                                                  25
Regains the trophies, bears in triumph back
The pilfer’d glories to wond’ring world.
So STELLA boasts, from her tale I learn’d;
With pride she told it, I with rapture heard.

O, MONTAGU! forgive me, if I sing                                                                    30
Thy wisdom temper’d with the milder ray
Of soft humanity, and kindness bland:
So wide its influence, that the bright beams
Reach the low vale where mists of ignorance lodge,
Strike on the innate spark which lay immers’d,                                                      35
Thick clogg’d, and almost quench’d in total night —
On me it fell, and cheer’d my joyless heart.

Unwelcome is the first bright dawn of light
To the dark soul; impatient, she rejects,
And fain wou’d push the heavenly stranger back;                                                  40
She loaths the cranny which admits the day;
Confus’d, afraid of the intruding guest;
Disturb’d, unwilling to receive the beam,
Which to herself her native darkness shews.

The effort rude to quench the cheering flame                                                45
Was mine, and e’en on STELLA cou’d I gaze
With sullen envy, and admiring pride,
Till, doubly rous’d by MONTAGU, the pair
Conspire to clear my dull, imprison’d sense,
And chase the mists which dimm’d my visual beam.                                           50

Oft as I trod my native wilds alone,
Strong gusts of thought wou’d rise, but rise to die;
The portals of swelling soul, ne’er op’d
By liberal converse, rude ideas strove
Awhile for vent, but found it not, and died.                                                           55
Thus rust the Mind’s best powers.  Yon starry orbs,
Majestic ocean, flowery vales, gay groves,
Eye-wasting lawns, and Heaven-attempting hills,
Which bound th’ horizon, and which curb the view;
All those, with beauteous imagery, awak’d                                                            60
My ravish’d soul to extacy untaught,
To all the transport the rapt sense can bear;
But all expir’d, for want of powers to speak;
All perish’d in the mind as soon as born,
Eras’d more quick than cyphers on the shore,                                                      65
O’er which the cruel waves, unheedful, roll.

Such timid rapture as young EDWIN seiz’d,
When his lone footsteps on the Sage obtrude,
Whose noble precept charm’d his wond’ring ear,
Such rapture fill’d LACTILLA’S vacant soul,                                                             70
When the bright Moralist, in softness drest,
Opes all the glories of the mental world,
Deigns to direct the infant thought, to prune
The budding sentiment, uprear the stalk
Of feeble fancy, bid idea live,                                                                                    75
Woo the abstracted spirit from its cares,
And gently guide her to the scenes of peace.
Mine was that balm, and mine the grateful heart,
Which breathes its thanks in rough, but timid strains.


Title Montagu Elizabeth Montagu (1718-1800), literary critic, writer, and patron of the arts.  She was a founding member of the Bluestockings, a group of intellectual women formed in the mid-eighteenth century (Britannica).

17 Muse “The inspiration of poetry or song” (OED).

19 spurns “To reject with contempt or disdain” (OED).

22 GALLIA’S mimic sons Ancient Latin word for France; a reference to French critics (OED).

23 SHAKESPEARE’S page A reference to Montagu’s most important work, An Essay on the Writing and Genius of Shakespear (1769).

25 CACUS Three-headed, fire-breathing Roman diety killed by Hercules in his own cave after stealing cattle (Britannica).

28 STELLA Yearsley’s poetic name for Hannah More (1745-1833), a poet, playwright, and member of the Bluestocking circle.  She became Yearsley’s most energetic patron until their falling out in 1787.

61 extacy “An exalted state of feeling which engrosses the mind to the exclusion of thought” (OED).

67 young EDWIN “See the Minstrel” [Author’s Note].  Edwin is the young poet of James Beattie’s (1785-1803) popular two-part poem The Minstrel (1771/1774).  One of the characters he encounters is a philosopher or “Sage” figure.

70 LACTILLA “The Author” [Author’s Note]. Yearsley’s poetic name for herself.

71 bright Moralist Most likely a reference to Elizabeth Montagu.

SOURCE:  Poems, on Several Occasions (London, 1785), pp. 101-106.  [Google Books]

Edited by Chloe Moody

Ann Yearsley, “Address to Friendship”


“Address To Friendship”

Friendship! thou noblest ardor of the soul!
Immortal essence! languor’s best support!
Chief dignifying proof of glorious man!
Firm cement of the world! endearing tie,
Which binds the willing soul, and brings along                                          5
Her chastest, strongest, and sublimest powers!

All else the dregs of spirit. Love’s soft flame,
Bewildering, leads th’ infatuated soul;
Levels, depresses, wraps in endless mists,
Contracts, dissolves, enervates and enslaves,                                            10
Relaxes, sinks, distracts, while Fancy fills
Th’ inflaming draught, and aids the calenture.
Intoxicating charm! yet well refin’d
By Virtue’s brightening flame, pure it ascends,
As incense in its grateful circles mounts,                                                     15
Till, mixt and lost, with Thee it boasts thy name.

Thou unfound blessing! woo’d with eager hope,
As clowns the nightly vapour swift pursue,
And fain wou’d grasp to cheer their lonely way;
Vain the wide stretch, and vain the shorten’d breath,                               20
For, ah! the bright delusion onward flies,
While the sad swain deceiv’d, now cautious treads
The common beaten track, nor quits it more.

Not unexisting art thou, but so rare,
That delving souls ne’er find thee; ’tis to thee,                                              25
When found, if ever found, sweet fugitive,
The noble mind opes all her richest stores;
Thy firm, strong hold suits the courageous breast,
Where stubborn virtues dwell in secret league,
And each conspires to fortify the rest.                                                            30

Etherial spirits alone may hope to prove
Thy strong, yet soften’d rapture; soften’d more
When penitence succeeds to injury;
When, doubting pardon, the meek, pleading eye
On which the soul had once with pleasure dwelt,                                          35
Swims in the tear of sorrow and repentance.
The faultless mind with treble pity views
The tarnish’d friend, who feels the sting of shame;
’Tis then too little barely to forgive;
Nor can the soul rest on that frigid thought,                                                   40
But rushing swiftly from her Stoic heights,
With all her frozen feelings melted down
By Pity’s genial beams, she sinks, distrest,
Shares the contagion, and with lenient hand
Lifts the warm chalice fill’d with consolation.                                                   45

Yet Friendship’s name oft decks the crafty lip,
With seeming virtue clothes the ruthless soul;
Grief-soothing notes, well feign’d to look like Truth,
Like an insidious serpent softly creep
To the poor, guileless, unsuspecting heart,                                                      50
Wind round in wily folds, and sinking deep
Explore her sacred treasure, basely heave
Her hoard of woes to an unpitying world;
First sooths, ensnares, exposes and betrays.
What art thou, fiend, who thus usurp’st the form                                             55
Of the soft Cherub? Tell me, by what name
The ostentatious call thee, thou who wreck’st
The gloomy peace of sorrow-loving souls?
Why thou art Vanity, ungenerous sprite,
Who tarnishest the action deem’d so great,                                                       60
And of soul-saving essence. But for thee,
How pure, how bright wou’d THERON’s virtues shine;
And, but that Thou art incorp’rate with the flame,
Which else wou’d bless where’er its beams illume,
My grateful spirit had recorded here                                                                   65
Thy splendid seemings. Long I’ve known their worth.

O, ’tis the deepest error man can prove,
To fancy joys disinterested can live,
Indissoluble, pure, unmix’d with self;
Why, ‘twere to be immortal, ‘twere to own                                                         70
No part but spirit in this chilling gloom.

My soul’s ambitious, and its utmost stretch
Wou’d be, to own a friend — but that’s deny’d.
Now, at this bold avowal, gaze, ye eyes,
Which kindly melted at my woe-fraught tale;                                                     75
Start back, Benevolence, and shun the charge;
Soft bending Pity, fly the sullen phrase,
Ungrateful as it seems. My abject fate
Excites the willing hand of Charity,
The momentary sigh, the pitying tear,                                                                 80
And instantaneous act of bounty bland,
To Misery so kind; yet not to you,
Bounty, or Charity, or Mercy mild,
The pensive thought applies fair Friendship’s name;
That name which never yet cou’d dare exist                                                        85
But in equality.


7 Dregs “The most worthless part or parts” (OED).

12 calenture “Burning passion, ardour, zeal” (OED).

41 Stoic Stoicism was a school of philosophy founded in Athens in the third century BC by Zeno of Citium.

56 Cherub An imaginary “being of a celestial or angelic order” (OED).

62 THERON “In Greek mythology, another name for the goddess Artemis. According to legend, Theron/Artemis made a wish in childhood to always remain a virgin and to assist women in childbirth” (Kerri Andrews, ed., The Collected Works of Ann Yearsley, vol. I, p. 388).

 SOURCE: Poems, on Several Occasions, 3rd edition (London, 1785), pp. 60-65. [HathiTrust]

Edited by Rafe Kassim

Phillis Wheatley, “On Recollection”


“On Recollection”


MNEME begin. Inspire, ye sacred nine,
Your vent’rous Afric in her great design.
Mneme, immortal pow’r, I trace thy spring:
Assist my strains, while I thy glories sing:
The acts of long departed years, by thee                                    5
Recover’d, in due order rang’d we see:
Thy pow’r the long-forgotten calls from night,
That sweetly plays before the fancy’s sight.

Mneme in our nocturnal visions pours
The ample treasure of her secret stores;                                    10
Swift from above she wings her silent flight
Through Phoebe’s realms, fair regent of the night;
And, in her pomp of images display’d,
To the high-raptur’d poet gives her aid,
Through the unbounded regions of the mind,                           15
Diffusing light celestial and refin’d.
The heav’nly phantom paints the actions done
By ev’ry tribe beneath the rolling sun.

Mneme, enthron’d within the human breast,
Has vice condemn’d, and ev’ry virtue blest.                                 20
How sweet the sound when we her plaudit hear?
Sweeter than music to the ravish’d ear,
Sweeter than Maro’s entertaining strains
Resounding through his groves, and hills, and plains.
But how is Mneme dreaded by the race,                                       25
Who scorn her warnings, and despise her grace?
By her unveil’d each horrid crime appears,
Her awful hand a cup of wormwood bears.
Days, years, misspent, O what a hell of woe!
Hers the worst tortures that our souls can know.                      30

Now eighteen years their destin’d course have run,
In fast succession round the central sun.
How did the follies of that period pass
Unnotic’d, but behold them writ in brass!
In Recollection see them fresh return,                                           35
And sure ‘tis mine to be asham’d, and mourn.

O Virtue, smiling in immortal green,
Do thou exert thy pow’r, and change the scene;
Be thine employ to guide my future days,
And mine to pay the tribute of my praise.                                    40

Of Recollection such the pow’r enthron’d
In ev’ry breast, and thus her pow’r is own’d.
The wretch, who dar’d the vengeance of the skies,
At last awakes in horror and surprize,
By her alarm’d, he sees impending fate,                                        45
He howls in anguish, and repents too late.
But O! what peace, what joys are hers t’ impart
To ev’ry holy, ev’ry upright heart!
Thrice blest the man, who, in her sacred shrine,
Feels himself shelter’d from the wrath of divine!                         50


1 Mneme The muse of memory; sacred nine The nine muses of Greek mythology.

8 fancy Poetic imagination.

12 Phoebe In Greek mythology, “she was identified with the moon” (Britannica).

21 plaudit “An expression of praise or approval” (OED).

23 Maro Publius Vergilius Maro, or Virgil (70 BCE-19 BCE), “Roman poet best known for his national epic, The Aenied” (Britannica).

28 wormwood “An emblem or type of what is bitter and grievous to the soul” (OED).

SOURCE:  Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1773), pp. 62-64.

Edited by Markesha Grant

Mary Barber, “Written for my Son, and spoken by him in School, upon his Master’s first bringing in a Rod”


“Written for my Son, and spoken by him in School, upon his Master’s first bringing in a Rod”

Our Master, in a fatal Hour,
Brought in this Rod, to shew his Pow’r.
O dreadful Birch! O baleful Tree!
Thou Instrument of Tyranny!
Thou deadly Damp to youthful Joys!                                   5
The Sight of thee our Peace destroys.
Not DAMOCLES, with greater Dread,
Beheld the Weapon o’er his Head.

That Sage was surely more discerning,
Who taught to play us into Learning,                                  10
By ‘graving Letters on the Dice:
May Heav’n reward the kind Device,
And crown him with immortal Fame,
Who taught at once to read and game!

Take my Advice; pursue that Rule;                                15
You’ll make a Fortune by your School.
You’ll soon have all the elder Brothers,
And be the Darling of their Mothers.

O May I live to hail the Day,
When Boys shall go to School to play!                                   20
To Grammar Rules we’ll bid Defiance;
For Play will then become a Science.


3 Birch “A bunch of birch-twigs bound together to form an instrument for the flagellation of school-boys and of juvenile offenders; a birch-rod” (OED).

7 DAMOCLES (fl. 4th Century BCE), courtier of Dionysious I of Syracuse (c. 430 BC-337 BC).  “Damocles, a flatterer, having extolled the happiness of Dionysius tyrant of Syracuse, was placed by him at a banquet with a sword suspended over his head by a hair, to impress upon him the perilous nature of that happiness.  Used by simile of an imminent danger, which may at any moment descend upon one” (OED).

9 Sage “See Locke upon education” [Author’s Note].  An allusion to John Locke’s Some Thoughts Concerning Education(1693), a popular treatise on the education of gentlemen in that period.

11 ‘graving Letters on the Dice A playful approach to education using dice with letters on each side.

15 pursue that Rule “Bowing to his Master” [Author’s Note].

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 36-37.  [Google Books]

Edited by Ty Garvin

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, “Farewell to Bath”


 “Farewell to Bath” 


To all you ladies now at Bath,
And eke, ye beaus, to you,
With aching heart, and watry eyes,
I bid my last adieu.

Farewell, ye nymphs, who waters sip                               5
Hot reeking from the pumps,
While music lends her friendly aid,
To cheer you from the dumps.

Farewell ye wits who prating stand,
And criticise the fair;                                                    10
Yourselves the joke of men of sense,
Who hate a coxcomb’s air.

Farewell to Deard’s, and all her toys,
Which glitter in her shop,
Deluding traps to girls and boys,                                        15
The warehouse of the fop.

Lindsay’s and Hayes’s both farewell,
Where in the spacious hall;
With bounding steps, and sprightly air,
I’ve led up many a ball.                                                 20

Where Somerville of courteous mien,
Was partner in the dance,
With swimming Haws, and Brownlow blithe,
And Britton pink of France.

Poor Nash, farewell! may fortune smile,                              25
Thy drooping soul revive,
My heart is full, I can no more—
John, bid the Coachman drive.


Author First attributed to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in The Poetical Works of the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, published in 1768.  It was subsequently included in a miscellany, Water Poetry:  A Collection of Verses Written at Several Public Places (London, 1771) also under Montagu’s name.  Recent scholarship has challenged this attribution.  See Robert Halsband and Isobel Grundy, eds., Lady Mary Wortley Montagu:  Essays and Poems and Simplicity, a Comedy (Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 173.

Title The poem first appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine in July, 1731, as “Lady M. M—‘s Farewel [sic] to Bath.”  Halsband and Grundy note that “Lady Mary’s name was extremely unlikely to be formulated this way” and “the designation fits at least two other ladies” at that time (p. 173).

eke “Also, too, moreover” (OED); beaus Attendant or suitor of a lady (OED).

3 watry Archaic spelling of “watery.”

6 pumps Refers to the Pump Rooms that were built adjacent to the communal Roman Baths. They initially operated as changing areas for those going swimming; however, due to how dirty the bathing water became, drinking the water directly from the pumps became the preferred and more accessible way of taking the water. Thus, they became centers of social activity at Bath (“History: The Bath Assembly,” The Bath Magazine [August, 2021]).

9 prating “To talk or chatter; to speak foolishly, boastfully, or to great length, especially to little purpose” (OED).

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

13 Deard’s Mrs. Deard was an eminent toy shop owner in Bath (Trevor Fawcett, Eighteenth-Century Shops and the Luxury Trade, p. 67)

16 fop See “coxcomb” above.

17 Lindsey’s and Hayes’s Popular assembly rooms in Bath; Lindsey’s was built by John Wood the Elder in 1730 (“History: The Bath Assembly,” The Bath Magazine [August, 2021]).

21 Somerville Possibly a reference to William Somerville (1675-1742) British writer and, later in life, lawyer and country gentleman (Britannica); mien “Air, look, manner” (Johnson).

23 swimming “(Of dancing) to glide along with a smooth or dizzy motion (Johnson); Haws Probably Lady Frances Vane (née Hawes) (1715-1788), who was unmarried in 1731; Brownlow Possibly Eleanor Brownlow, later Viscountess Tyrconnel (1691-1730), who had been in Bath in the early months of 1730 recovering from an illness, but died later that year in September (see Stanley V. Makower, Richard Savage, A Mystery in Biogaphy, p. 193); blithe “Joyous, gladsome, cheerful” (OED).

24 Britton pink of France Unable to trace.

25 Nash Richard “Beau” Nash (1674-1762), “celebrated dandy and leader of fashion in eighteenth-century Britain” (National Portrait Gallery); largely credited for boosting the social and tourist landscape of Bath in the early 1700s (“History: The Bath Assembly,” The Bath Magazine [August, 2021]).

SOURCE: Letters of the Right Honourable L–y M–y W—–y M—–u, vol. II (London, 1784), pp. 268-269.  [Google Books]

Edited by Chloe Caneday

Aphra Behn, “On a Juniper-Tree, cut down to make Busks”


“On a Juniper-Tree, cut down to make Busks.”

Whilst happy I Triumphant stood,
The Pride and Glory of the Wood;
My Aromatick Boughs and Fruit,
Did with all other Trees dispute.
Had right by Nature to excel,                                             5
In pleasing both the tast and smell:
But to the touch I must confess,
Bore an Ungrateful Sullenness.
My Wealth, like bashful Virgins, I
Yielded with some Reluctancy;                                           10
For which my vallue should be more,
Not giving easily my store.
My verdant Branches all the year
Did an Eternal Beauty wear;
Did ever young and gay appear.                                         15
Nor needed any tribute pay,
For bounties from the God of Day:
Nor do I hold Supremacy,
(In all the Wood) o’er every Tree.
But even those too of my own Race,                                  20
That grow not in this happy place.
But that in which I glory most,
And do my self with Reason boast,
Beneath my shade the other day,
Young Philocles and Cloris lay,                                               25
Upon my Root she lean’d her head,
And where I grew, he made their Bed:
Whilst I the Canopy more largely spread.
Their trembling Limbs did gently press,
The kind supporting yielding Grass:                                    30
Ne’er half so blest as now, to bear
A Swain so Young, a Nimph so fair:
My Grateful Shade I kindly lent,
And every aiding Bough I bent.
So low, as sometimes had the blisse,                                 35
To rob the Shepherd of a kiss,
Whilst he in Pleasures far above
The Sence of that degree of Love:
Permitted every stealth I made,
Unjealous of his Rival Shade.                                                40
I saw ‘em kindle to desire,
Whilst with soft sighs they blew the fire:
Saw the approaches of their joy,
He growing more fierce, and she less Coy,
Saw how they mingled melting Rays,                                  45
Exchanging Love a thousand ways.
Kind was the force on every side,
Her new desire she could not hide:
Nor wou’d the Shepherd be deny’d.
Impatient he waits no consent                                             50
But what she gave by Languishment,
The blessed Minute he pursu’d;
And now transported in his Arms,
Yeilds to the Conqueror all her Charmes,
His panting Breast, to hers now join’d,                               55
They feast on Raptures unconfin’d;
Vast and Luxuriant, such as prove
The Immortality of Love.
For who but a Divinitie,
Could mingle Souls to that Degree;                                     60
And melt ‘em into Extasie.
Now like the Phenix, both Expire,
While from the Ashes of their fire,
Sprung up a new, and soft desire.
Like Charmers, thrice they did invoke,                                65
The God! and thrice new vigor took.
Nor had the Mysterie ended there,
But Cloris reassum’d her fear,
And chid the Swain, for having prest,
What she alas wou’d not resist:                                            70
Whilst he in whom Loves sacred flame,
Before and after was the same,
Fondly implor’d she wou’d forget
A fault, which he wou’d yet repeat.
From Active Joyes with some they hast,                              75
To a Reflexion on the past;
A thousand times my Covert bless,
That did secure their Happiness:
Their Gratitude to every Tree
They pay, but most to happy me;                                         80
The Shepherdess my Bark carest,
Whilst he my Root, Love’s Pillow, kist;
And did with sighs, their Fate deplore,
Since I must shelter them no more;
And if before my Joyes were such,                                        85
In having heard, and seen too much,
My Grief must be as great and high,
When all abandon’d I shall be,
Doom’d to a silent Destinie.
No more the Charming strife to hear,                                 90
The Shepherds Vows, the Virgins fear:
No more a joyful looker on,
Whilst Loves soft Battel’s lost and won.
With grief I bow’d my murmering Head,
And all my Christal Dew I shed.                                             95
Which did in Cloris Pity move,
(Cloris whose Soul is made of Love;)
She cut me down, and did translate,
My being to a happier state.
No Martyr for Religion di’d                                                      100
With half that Unconsidering Pride;
My top was on that Altar laid,
Where Love his softest Offerings paid:
And was as fragrant Incense burn’d,
My body into Busks was turn’d:                                              105
Where I still guard the Sacred Store,
And of Loves Temple keep the Door.


3 Boughs “An arm or large shoot of a tree, bigger than a branch, yet not always distinguished from it” (Johnson).

6 tast Variant for “taste.”

13 verdant Green.

17 God of Day Helios, Greek god of the sun.

44 Coy Modest.

56 Raptures “Ecstasy; transport; violence of any pleasing passion; enthusiasm; uncommon heat of imagination” (Johnson).

62 Phenix Phoenix. An ancient mythological bird associated with the worship of the sun. “As its end approached, the phoenix fashioned a nest of aromatic boughs and spices, set it on fire, and was consumed in the flames” (Britannica).

105 Busks Popular in women’s fashion as an undergarment during the 16th to early 20th century. “A strip of wood, whalebone, steel, or other rigid material attached vertically to the front section of a corset so as to stiffen and support it. Hence occasionally: the corset itself” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions: with a Voyage to the Island of Love (London, 1684), pp. 19-24. [Google Books]

Edited by Alana Croft

[John Scott], “Verses occasioned by the Description of the Eolian Harp”


“Verses occasioned by the Description of the EOLIAN HARP”

Untaught o’er strings to draw the rosin’d bow,
Or melting strains on the soft flute to blow,
With others long I mourn’d the want of skill,
Resounding roofs with harmony to fill;
Till happy ! now the Eolian lyre is known,                                        5
And all the pow’rs of musick are my own.
Swell all thy notes, delightful harp , O swell!
Inflame thy poet to describe thee well,
When the full chorus rises with the breeze,
Or slowly sinking lessens by degrees,                                              10
To sounds more soft than am’rous gales disclose,
At evening panting on the blushing rose;
More sweet than all the notes that organs breathe,
Or tuneful echoes, when they die, bequeathe.
Oft where some sylvan temple decks the grove,                          15
The slave of easy indolence I rove;
There the wing’d breeze the lifted sash pervades,
Each breath is musick, vocal all the shades;
Charm’d with the soothing sound at ease reclin’d,
To fancy’s pleasing pow’r I yield my mind:                                     20
And now enchanted scenes around me rise,
And some kind Ariel the soft air supplies:
Now lofty Pindus through the shades I view,
Where all the nine their tuneful art persue,
To me the sound the parting gale conveys,                                  25
And all my heart is extasy and praise:
Now to Arcadian plains at once convey’d,
Some shepherd’s pipe delights his fav’rite maid;
Mix’d with the murmurs of a neighb’ring stream,
I hear soft notes that suit an am’rous theme;                              30
Ah! then a victim to the fond deceit,
My heart begins with fierce desires to beat;
To fancy’d sighs I real sighs return,
By turns I languish, and by turns I burn.
Ah Delia haste! and here attentive prove,                                      35
Like me that ‘music is the voice of love,’
So shall I mourn my rustic strains no more,
While pleas’d you listen who could frown before.
Hertfordshire, Nov. 15, 1754.


 Author This poem is signed “R.S”; identified by Emily Lorraine de Montluzin as John Scott of Amwell (1731-1783), a Quaker poet who published a number of poems in the GM between 1753-1758 (“The Poetry of the Gentleman’s Magazine, 1731-1800”).

Title EOLIAN HARP “A stringed instrument producing musical sounds on exposure to a current of air” (OED).  Named after Aeolus, the Greek god of wind.  The “description” Scott is responding to appeared in the GM, vol. 24 (February 1754), p. 74.

15 sylvan Of the woods (OED).

23 Pindus Grecian mountain range that includes Mount Parnassus, home of the nine muses.

27 Arcadian Belonging to Arcadia; ideally rural or rustic (OED).

36 ‘music is the voice of love’ Quoted from James Thomson, Spring (1735), line 569.

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 24 (November, 1754), p. 525. [Internet Archive]

Edited by Neil Donovan


Laetitia Pilkington, “Sorrow”




While sunk in deepest solitude and woe,
My streaming eyes with ceaseless sorrow flow,
While anguish wears the sleepless night away,
And fresher grief awaits returning day;
Encompassed round with ruin, want and shame,                               5
Undone in fortune, blasted in my fame;
Lost to the soft endearing ties of life,
And tender names of daughter, mother, wife;
Can no recess from calumny be found?
And yet can fate inflict a deeper wound!                                              10
As one who, in a dreadful tempest toss’d,
If thrown by chance upon some desert coast,
Calmly awhile surveys the fatal shore,
And hopes that fortune can inflict no more;
Till some fell serpent makes the wretch his prey,                               15
Who ‘scap’d in vain the dangers of the sea;
So I who hardly ‘scap’d domestic rage,
Born with eternal sorrows to engage,
Now feel the pois’nous force of sland’rous tongues,
Who daily wound me with envenom’d wrongs.                                   20
Shed then a ray divine, all gracious heav’n,
Pardon the soul that sues to be forgiven,
Though cruel human-kind relentless prove,
And least resemble thee in acts of love;
Though friends who should administer relief,                                     25
Add pain to woe, and misery to grief,
And oft! too oft! with hypocritic air,
Condemn those faults in which they deeply share:
Yet thou who dost our various frailties know,
And see’st each spring from whence our actions flow,                       30
Shalt, while for mercy to thy throne I fly,
Regard the lifted hand and streaming eye.
Thou didst the jarring elements compose,
When this harmonious universe arose;
O speak the tempest of the soul to peace,                                           35
Bid the tumultuous war of passion cease;
Receive me to thy kind paternal care,
And guard me from the horrors of despair.
And since no more I boast a mother’s name,
Nor in my children can a portion claim,                                                40
The helpless babes to thy protection take,
Nor punish for their hapless mother’s sake.
Thus the poor bird, when frighted from her nest,
With agonizing love, and grief distress’d,
Still fondly hovers o’er the much-lov’d place,                                       45
Through strengthless, to protect her tender race;
In piercing notes she movingly complains,
And tells the unattending woods her pains.
And thou, my soul’s once fondest, dearest part,
Who schem’d my ruin with such cruel art,                                            50
From human laws no longer seek to find
A pow’r to loose that knot which God has join’d,
The props of life are rudely pull’d away,
And the frail building falling to decay,
My death shall give thee thy desir’d release,                                        55
And lay me down in everlasting peace.


9 calumny Slander, “a false statement about a person that is made to damage their reputation” (OED).

16 ‘scap’d Escaped.

25-26 friends… add pain to woe, misery to grief The poet Jonathan Swift, once patron and friend to Pilkington, would after her divorce disavow her and call her “’the most profligate whore in either kingdom.” (History Ireland, vol. 17, no. 2, Mar/April 2009).

39-40 And since no more I boast a mother’s name,/Nor in my children can a portion claim Post divorce Pilkington’s husband assumed all their possessions and disallowed her seeing their children. (History Ireland, vol. 17, no. 2, Mar/April 2009).

49 And thou, my soul’s once fondest, dearest part “Mem. My Husband, who was then suing for a divorce” [Author’s Note].

SOURCE: Poems by Eminent Ladies, vol. II (London, 1755), pp. 255-57. [Hathitrust]

Edited by Carina Thanh-Ngoc DeLorenzo



Mary Masters, “On Beauty”


“On Beauty”

Sure, Beauty is a Light Divine,
That does with awful Lustre shine;
Rises more strong at ev’ry View,
And does the proudest Hearts subdue.
Where is the Man, that durst defy                                            5
The blooming Cheek and dazling Eye;
The lovely Shape, the winning Air,
And graceful Motions of the Fair?
Stoicks themselves could find no Arms
’Gainst Beauty’s bright tremendous Charms:                          10
This CATO by Example prov’d,
A rigid Stoick, yet he lov’d:
And both his am’rous Sons display’d
Their rival Flames for one fair Maid.
Beauty still triumphs o’er the Schools,                                       15
With all their Philosophick Rules;
She breaks their surest best Defence,
Reason, the feeble Guard of Sense.

All feel her Force, her Laws obey,
Compell’d to own her potent Sway.                                             20
But ’tis th’ unblemish’d Form I praise,
Where VIRTUE shines with equal Rays!
For Beauty, stain’d, has lost her Pow’r,
And, VIRTUE gone, she charms no more.


2 Lustre “The quality or condition of shining by reflected light; sheen, refulgence; gloss” (OED).

4 subdue “To bring (an enemy, people, territory, etc.) into subjection by conquest or physical force” (OED).

5 durst Past tense of “dare.”

9 Stoicks “One who practices repression of emotion, indifference to pleasure or pain, and patient endurance” (OED).

11 CATO Cato the Younger (95-46BCE), Roman statesman and famous follower of stoicism.  Cato’s intended first marriage to Aemilia Lepida was possibly motivated by love, though she ended up marrying Scipio, to whom she was previously betrothed (Britannica).

13-14 Masters is using Joseph Addison’s popular play, Cato, a Tragedy (1712) as her source here as Addison exercised “considerable literary license” by creating a plot line in which Cato’s sons, Portius and Marcus, vied for the love of a woman named Lucia.  See Nathan Wolloch, “Cato the Younger in the Enlightenment,” Modern Philology, vol. 106, no. 1 (August 2008), p. 67.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 60-61. [Google Books]

Edited by Itzel Rodriguez