Anne Finch, "The miser and the poet"

Being a female poet and aware of the unpopular view of such a woman Anne Finch was very careful about deciding which, if any at all of her poems she would publish. The tones and attitudes possessed in Finch's unpublished poetry are fervent, and personal, whereas some of her published poems for example her songs are seen as trivial. In Anne Finch's poem "The Miser and the Poet" by looking at the relationship between the miser and the poet one can begin to come to an understanding of why the decision for a female poet to publish was so difficult in the eighteenth century. The poem "The Miser and the Poet" presents two characters, the miser and the poet, with each character representing two very different personalities. The poet is youthful, exuberant and carefree, whereas the miser is old, experienced, and cautious. The two characters have two very different views of the role of the poet, which by the end of the poem we see that the poet has been swayed by the miser and his beliefs. The Poet sees the role of the poet as one of respect because the poet is educated, witty, and cultured. The poet is also respected for "conversation, wit, and letters" (line 48), the poet has built a reputation in society, and is also regarded for intelligence as the poet character in the poem says. In contrast, the Miser sees the poet as a person who has been discarded, disgraced, unrecognized, and even goes so far as to call the poet a "Fool" (line 49). The poem is concluded by the Miser warning the poet to save his money and "use a conscience" for it is "money which only can relieve you when fame and friendship will deceive you" (line 85-86). The poet resolves to hide his wit until a time when "wit shall please, and poets thrive" (line 99) and until that time his talents will remain hidden. In this poem we are seeing Anne Finch using the persona of the poet to demonstrate her own conflict with whether or not to publish her works or to hide them until a time when her works will be rejoiced rather than scorned. Finch, like the poet in the poem, chose to be very cautious with her poems, choosing only those which would not attract any harsh criticism towards herself.