It’s National Poetry Month in the States, so I thought I’d post a favorite poem or two each Wednesday until we run out of April.
My favorite course in college was 17th Century Poetry and Prose—and not just because the professor had me pegged as a wiseass from the first class and then egged me on for the rest of the semester.*
I love this stuff, I really do—the couplets, the sonnets, the free-flow within the structure, the rhythm and the rhyme. Plus, the seventeenth century was chock-full of cynical, mischievous, brilliant, and often libidinous wiseasses.
And some of ’em were women:
The Author to her Book
Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did’st by my side remain,
Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true
Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view,
Made thee in raggs, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judg).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, of so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretcht thy joynts to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’th’ house I find.
In this array, ‘mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam,
In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.
—Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)
*Academics get bored, too.