This long poem was been cut up, and deliberately de-personalized into three poems in the 1713 Miscellany; since Reynolds made this and not the Folger her copy text, it has consistently been misunderstood. It is autobiographical. See Entry No. 154 (1706-1709) in my Annotated Chronology. It may have been written while Anne was at Wye College and then revised at this point and placed into the MS Folger.
Some occasional Reflections Digested (tho' not with great regularity) into a Poeme--
By neer resemblance see that Bird betray'd
Who takes the well wrought Arras for a shade.
There hopes to pearch and with a chearfull Tune
O're-passe the scortchings of the sultry Noon
But soon repuls'd by the obdurate Scean
How swift she turns but turns alas in vain
That piece a Grove this shews an ambient sky
Where immitated Fowl their pinnions ply
Seeming to mount in flight and aiming still more high.
All she outstripps and with a moment's pride
Their understation silent does deride.
Till the dash'd cealing strikes her to the ground
No intercepting shrub to break the fall is found
Recovering breath the window next she gaines
Nor fears a stop from the transparent Panes.
O man what inspiration was thy Guide
Who taught thee Light and Air thus to divide
To lett in all the usefull beames of Day
Yett force as subtil winds without thy Sash to stay
T'extract from Embers by a strange device
Then pollish fair these flakes of sollid Ice
Which silver'd o're redouble all in place
And give thee back thy well or ill-complexion'd Face.
To colors blown exceed the gloomy Bowl
Which did the Wines full excellence controul
These shew the Body whilest you taste the soul.
Its Colour Sparkles motion letts thee see
Though yett th'excesse the Preacher warns to flee
Least men att length as clearly spy through thee.
But we degresse and leave th'imprison'd wretch
Now sinking low now on a loftyer stretch
Flutt'ring in endlesse cercles of dismay
'Till some kind hand directs the certain way
Which through the casement an escape affoards
And leads to ample space the only Heav'n of Birds
So here confin'd and but of female Clay
As much my soul mistook the rightful way
Whilst the soft breeze of Pleasure's tempting air
Made her believe Felicity was there
And basking in the warmth of early time
To vain Amusements dedicate her Prime
Ambition then alur'd her tow'ring Eye
For Paradice she heard was plac'd on high
Then thought the Court was all its glorious sow
Was sure above the rest and Paradice below
There plac'd too soon the flaming sword appear'd
Remov'd those Powers, whom justly she rever'd
Adher'd too in their Wreck, and in their Ruin shar'd.
Now by the Wheels inevitable round
With them thrown prostrate to the humble ground
No more she take's (instructed by that fall)
For fixt or worth her thought this rowling Ball
Nor feed a hope that boasts but mortal birth,
Or springs from man though fram'd of Royal earth
Tow'rds a more certain station she aspires
Unshaken by Revolts; and owns no lesse desires
But all in vain are Pray'rs extatick thoughts
Recover'd moments and retracted faults
Retirement which the World morossenesse calls
Abandon'd pleasures in Montastick walls
These but att distance towards that purpose tend
The lowly means to an exalted end
Which He must perfect who alotts her stay
And that accomplish'd will direct the way.
Pitty her restlesse cares and weary strife
And point some Issue to escaping Life
Which so dismiss'd no Pen or human speech
Th'ineffable Recesse can ever teach
Th'Expanse the Light the Harmony the Throng
The Brides attendance and the Bridal song
The numerous Mantions and th'immortal Tree
No Eye unpurg'd by Death must ever see
Or waves which through that wond'rous Citty rowl
Rest then content my too impatient Soul
Observe but here the easie Precepts given
Then wait with chearfull hope, till Heaven be known in Heaven.
In 1713 published as "Glass," p 264, with first line: O Man! what Inspiration was thy Guide," and as "Fragment," pp 280-1, with first line: "So here confin'd, and but to female Clay." In 1903 Reynolds published "Hope" among moral songs just before fables, p 136 (she did not know what to do with it as it appears in 1713 Miscellany heavily separated from "Glass," pp 262-3; then she printed "Fragment" as a personal lament, pp 14-15, then many pages later "Glass" as in 1713 text, p 50, and then from the Folger text, the opening 15 lines of the poem "By neer resemblance see that Bird betray'd," which Reynolds entitled "The Bird and the Arras," p 51 followed by an ellipsis (where "Glass" occurs i the MS Folger), and then the 6 lines of the whole poem (never before printed) which follow "Glass" and make clear the connection between the bird and Mrs. Finch.
A poem whose parts have been remarked and upon which analysis has been attempted in vain because it is incoherent until put together; then it is a personal, self-communing poem, which combines natural imagery, moral and psychological examination and devotional meditation, of the type she attempted early in her career. Of these four she published anonymously in 1696 and a fifth in 1701; she apparently could not make up her mind to censor or destroy any of these completely.
Page Last Updated: 8 January 2003.