Seminar One: Mary Barber "The Conclusion of a Letter to the Rev. Mr. C-"

Why Barber wrote poetry, in her own words: "My Aim being chiefly to form the Minds of my Children"
Though she claims to use poetry to educate her children, Barber simultaneously educates her audience about the value of the female mind; as her poems voice her private opinions of the status of women writers. Barber uses a letter to convey these grievances against patriarchal prejudice. Barber uses the excuse of her son Con's education as a means of conveying her opinions. Educating her son (whilst simultaneously educating her audience) about female potential and intellect is the best way she can ensure that women poets are accepted and valued in future. In addition the literary mode of a letter enabled Barber to escape her domestic world and enter the literary world.
Bernard Tucker, editor a 1992 edition of The Poetry of Mary Barber writes, in his introduction, that: "Mary Barber wrote poems in her role as a mother. These gave her the opportunity to assert as least some form of authority (that of a mother) where she was (as a woman) pushed to one side and ignored. As a mother she was able to write at least social criticism rather than the expected saccharine sentiments expected of a (mere) mother writing `verse'.

Seminar Two: Mehetabel Wright "An Epitaph on Herself" and "To an Infant Expiring on the Second Day of its Birth."

An elegiac poem tends to the poet's bereavement process, as it expresses a form of grief.
In the poem "An Epitaph..." Wright writes about herself while adopting the tone of an impartial observer. This is perhaps a way of attaining recognition for her person, which may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Wright also struggled with melancholy, thus may have been self-pitying in poetry. She often addresses the power of destiny in her poems - according to Wright, Fate is a strong force against her personal search for happiness. However, she makes a conscious decision not to succumb to death, but to write about it.
In "To an Infant..." reads like a lullaby. As Wright elegizes her child in this poem she simultaneously exorcises her inner grief and melancholy. There are many references to the heaviness of Death and Fate. Very emotional poet - expressions of grief in a raw form.

Seminar Three: Anna Seward "Colebrooke Dale"

Pre-Romantic and sentimental poet. The sentimental poet’s work is deemed overwrought because she supplies personal emotion in excess of the object being praised.
Walter Scott to write that: "Miss Seward was in practice trained and attached to that school of picaresque and florid description, of lofty metaphor and bold personification, of a diction which inversion and use of compound epithets rendered [her] as remote as possible from the tone of ordinary language...she particularly demanded beauty, elegance or splendor of language."
The definition of "topography", according to the Oxford English Dictionary it is the "science or practice of describing a particular place, city, town, parish or tract of land" and is the "accurate and detailed delineation and description of any locality."
Seward's poem compares Colebrook Dale's current industrial scene to the pre-industrial scenery of harmony and beauty. This comparison intensifies the destruction of a paradise. Coalbrookdale in Shropshire was the seat of the Industrial Revolution and the site of a huge ironworks. She feels the landscape was not meant for invasion or control. The exploitation of land continues for the sake of money and material possession. Seward sees the loss of natural landscape as a loss of British identity. Ironically, Seward writes about the ugliness of commerce as she simultaneously makes the content artistic by placing it in poetic form. Her inspiration to write stems from this ugly landscape.