MS's: F-H 283, 1-5*; Folger, 1-2
Did I, my Lines intend for publick view,
How many Censures, wou'd their Faults pursue,
Some wou'd, because such words they doe affect,
Cry their [sic] insipid, empty, uncorrect;
And many, haue attain'd, dull and untaught
The name of witt, only by finding fault.
True judges, might condemn their want of witt,
And all might say, they're by a Woman writt.
Alas! a woman that attempts the pen,
Such an intruder on the rights of men,
Such a presumptuous Creature, is esteem'd,
The fault, can by no virtue be redeem'd.
They tell us, we mistake our sex, and way;
Good breeding, fashion, dancing, dressing, play
Are the Accomplishments we shou'd desire;
To read, or write, or think, or to enquire
Wou'd cloud our beauty, and exhaust our time;
And interrupt the Conquests of our prime;
Whilst, the dull manage, of a Servile house
Is held by some, our outmost art, and use.
Sure 'twas not ever thus, nor are wee told
Fables of women, that excell'd of old;
To whom, by the diffusive hand of Heaven
Some share of witt, and poetry was given.
On that glad day, on which the Ark return'd,
The holy pledge, for which the Land had mourn'd,
The joyfull Tribes, attend it on the way,
The Levites doe the sacred Charge convey,
Whilst various Instruments, before itt play;
Here, holy Virgins in the Concert joyn,
The Louder notes, to soften, and refine,
And with alternate verse, Compleate the Hymn Devine.
Loe! the Young Poet, after God's own heart,
By Him inspir'd, and taught the Muses Art,
Return'd from Conquest, a bright Chorus meets,
That sing his slayn ten Thousand in the Streets.
In such Loud numbers they his Acts declare,
Proclaime the wonders, of his early war,
That Saul, upon the vast applause does frown,
And feels, its mighty Thunder shake the Crown.
What, can the threat'n'd Judgment now prolong?
Half of the Kingdom is already gone;
The fairest half, whose influence guides the rest,
Haue David's Empire, o're their hearts confess't.
A Woman here, leads fainting Israel on,
She fights, she wins, she Triumphs with a Song,
Devout, Majestick, for the Subject Fitt,
And far aboue her Armes, exalts her witt,
Then, to the peacefull, shady Palme withdraws,
And Rules the rescu'd Nation with her Laws.
How are we fal'n, fal'n by mistaken Rules?
And Education's, more than Nature's fools,
Debarr'd from all improve-ments of the minde,
And to be dull, expected and design'd;
And if some one, wou'd Soar above the rest,
With warmer fancy, and ambition press't,
So Strong, th' opposing faction still appears,
The hopes to thrive, can ne're outweigh the fears,
Be caution'd then my Muse, and still retir'd;
Nor be dispis'd, aiming to be admir'd;
Conscious of wants, still with contracted wing,
To some few Freinds, and to thy Sorrows Sing;
For Groves of Lawrell, thou wert neuer meant;>
Be dark enough thy shades, and be thou there content.
1903 Reynolds prints Folger text, 4; rpts of 1903 Reynolds: 1928 Murray, 24-5; 1930 Fausset, 3; 1979 Rogers AF, 5-7; 1987 Thompson, 26-8.
Rpts of 1713/1903: 1973 Goulianos, 71-3; 1975 Kaplan, 62-3; 1979 Rogers, Six Women, 3-4; 1985 Ferguson, 248-50; 1985 Gilbert/Gubar. 100-2; 1989 Spender/Todd, 155-6; 1990 Fullard, 24-5; 1991 Uphaus/Foster, 170-2; 1993 Abrams, 1992-3.
This poem opens both MS F-H 283 and MS Folger. It was never printed in Finch's lifetime, and bears the marks of deep depression. It was not intended for "the world's eyes," i.e., the final couplet: "For groves of Lawrell, thou wert never meant;/Be dark enough thy shades, and be thou there content". I suggest it was written well before it was copied into MS Finch-Hatton 283 (perhaps middle 1690s). It is nonetheless conceived as an "Introduction" to a compilation of all Finch's poems into one book. The first project (MS F-H 283) probably took shape when she and Heneage were living settled lives at Eastwell; this I think occurred as late as 1702. It is then we find the first evidence of her as one of a circle of poets known and writing and receiving poems from one another through the 1701 Gilden. The poems in 1701 Gilden do not occur among the earlier poems in the F-H 283, but among the middle and later poems in the MS Folger (a second project) which became the copybook of choice once Ann came to Eastwell. In other words, at the time of the writing of this poem Anne had no circle of poets to belong to; at the time of copying it out the second time she did.
Page Last Updated 7 January 2003