Select poems by Anne Finch

The Introduction
To Mr. Pope, in answer to a Copy of Verses, occasion'd by a little Dispute upon four Lines in the Rape of the Lock
To the Eccho
The Goute and the Spider. A Fable. Imitated from Monsr de la Fontaine and Inscribed to Mr. Finch After his first Fitt of that Distemper

The Introduction

Did I, my lines intend for public view,
How many censures, would their faults pursue,
Some would, because such words they do affect,
Cry they're insipid, empty, incorrect.
And many have attained, dull and untaught, 5
The name of wit only by finding fault.
True judges might condemn their want of wit,
And all might say, they're by a woman writ.
Alas! a woman that attempts the pen,
Such an intruder on the rights of men, 10
Such a presumptuous creature, is esteemed,
The fault can by no virtue be redeemed.
They tell us we mistake our sex and way;
Good breeding, fashion, dancing, dressing, play
Are the accomplishments we should desire; 15
To write, or read, or think, or to inquire
Would 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. 20
Sure 'twas not ever thus, nor are we told
Fables, of women that excelled of old;
To whom, by the diffusive hand of Heaven
Some share of wit, and poetry was given.
On that glad day, on which the Ark returned, 25
The holy pledge, for which the land had mourned,
The joyful tribes, attend it on the way,
The Levites do the sacred charge convey,
Whilst various instruments, before it play;
Here, holy virgins in the concert join 30
The louder notes, to soften, and refine,
And with alternate verse complete the hymn divine.
Lo! the young Poet, after God's own heart,
By Him inspired, and taught the Muses' art,
Returned from conquest, a bright chorus meets, 35
That sing his slain ten thousand in the streets.
In such loud numbers they his acts declare,
Proclaim the wonders of his early war,
That Saul upon the vast applause does frown,
And feels its mighty thunder shake the crown. 40
What, can the threatened judgment now prolong?
Half of the kingdom is already gone;
The fairest half, whose influence guides the rest,
Have David's empire o'er their hearts confessed.
A woman here, leads fainting Israel on, 45
She fights, she wins, she triumphs with a song,
Devout, majestic, for the subject fit,
And far above her arms, exalts her wit;
Then, to the peaceful, shady palm withdraws,
And rules the rescued nation, with her laws. 50
How are we fall'n, fall'n by mistaken rules?
And education's, more than nature's fools,
Debarred from all improvements of the mind,
And to be dull, expected and designed;
And if some one would soar above the rest, 55
With warmer fancy, and ambitions pressed,
So strong th'opposing faction still appears,
The hopes to thrive can ne'er outweigh the fears,
Be cautioned then my Muse, and still retired;
Nor be despised, aiming to be admired; 60
Conscious of wants, still with contracted wing,
To some few friends, and to thy sorrows sing;
For groves of laurel thou wert never meant;
Be dark enough thy shades, and be thou there content.

from The Norton Anthology of Poetry, 4th edition, ed. Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1996), pp. 522-523.
To Mr. Pope, in answer to a Copy of Verses, occasion'd by a little Dispute upon four Lines in the Rape of the Lock
Disarm'd, with so Genteel an Air,
The Contest I giue ore,
Yett, Alexander! have a care,
And shock the sex no more.
We rule the World, our Lives whole Race,
Men but assume that Right,
First slaves to ev'ry tempting Face,
Then, Martyrs to our spight.
You, of one Orpheus, sure have read,
Who wou'd, like you, have Writt,
Had He in London Town been bred,
And Pollish'd, to his Wit;
But He, poor soul, thought all was Well,
And great shou'd be his Fame,
When he had left his Wife in Hell,
And Birds, and Beasts cou'd tame.
Yett, ventring then with scoffing Rimes
The Women to Incense,
Resenting Heroines, of those Times
Soon punished his Offence.
And as through Hebrus, rowl'd his scull,
And Harpe besmear'd with Blood,
They, clashing, as the Waves grew full,
Still harmonis'd the Flood.
But You, our Follies, gently treat,
And spinn so fine the Thread,
You need not fear his awkward Fate;
The Lockwo'n't cost the Head.
Our Admiration, you Command,
For all that's gone before;
What, next we look for, at your Hand
Can only raise itt more.
Yett sooth the Ladies, I advise,
As me, to Pride you've wrought;
We're born to wit, but to be wise
By admonitions taught


Uncorrected version, printed in Pope's Minor poems, ed. Norman Ault and completed by John Butt (London and New Haven: Methuen and Yale University Press, 1954), pp. 121-122.

To the Eccho

In a clear night upon Astrop walks

Say lovely Nymph, where dost thou dwell?
Where is that secret Sylvan seat,
That melancholy, sweet retreat,
From whence, thou doest these notes repell,
And moving Syllables repeat?
Oh lovely Nymph, our joys to swell,
Thy hollow, leafy mantion tell,
Or if thou only charm'st the ear,
And never wilt to sight, appear,
But doest alone in voyce excell,
Still with itt, fix us here.
Where Cynthia, lends her gentle light,
Whilst the appeas'd, expanded air,
A passage for thee, does prepare,
And Strephon's tunefull voyce, invite,
Thine, a soft part with him to bear.
Oh pleasure! when thou'dst take a flight,
Beyond thy common, mortal height,
When to thy sphere above, thou'dst presse,
And men, like Angels, thou woud'st blesse,
Thy season, be like this, fair Night,
And Harmony thy dresse.

The poems of Anne Countess of Winchelsea, ed. Myra Reynolds (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1903), pp. 264-265.

The Goute and the Spider. A Fable. Imitated from Monsr de la Fontaine and Inscribed to Mr. Finch After his first Fitt of that Distemper

When from th'Infernal pitt two Furies rose
One foe to Flies and one to Mans repose
Seeking aboue to find a place secure
Since Hell the Goute nor Spider cou'd indure
On a rich Pallace at the first they light
Where pleas'd Arachne dazzl'd with the sight
In a conspiccuous corner of a Room
The hanging Frett work makes her active Loom.
From leaf to leaf with every line does trace,
Admires the strange convenience of the place
Nor can belieue those Cealings e'er were made
To other end than to promote her Trade
Where prou'd and prosper'd in her finish'd work
The hungry Fiend does in close Ambush lurk
Untill some silly Insect shall repay
What from her Bowells she has spun that day.
The wiser Gout (for that's a thinking ill)
Observing how the splended chambers fill
With visitors such as abound below
Who from Hypocrates and Gallen grow
To some unwealthy shed resolues to fly
And there obscure and unmolested lye
But see how eithers project quickly fails
The Clown his new tormentor with him trayles
Through miry ways rough Woods and furrow'd Lands
Ne'er cutts the Shooe nor propp'd on Crutches stands
With Phoebus rising stays with Cynthia out
Allows no respitt to the harrass'd Gout.
Whilst with extended Broom th'unpittying Maid
Does the transparent Laberynth invade
Back stroke and fore the battering Engin went
Broke euery Cord and quite unhing'd the Tent
No truce the tall Virago e'er admitts
Contracted and abash'd Arachne' sitts
Then in conuenient Time the Work renews
The battering Ram again the work persues.
What's to be done? The Gout and Spider meet,
Exchange, the Cottage this; That takes the feet
Of the rich Abbott who that Pallace kept
And 'till that time in Velvet Curtains slept
Now Colwort leaues and Cataplasms (thô vain)
Are hourly order'd by that griping traine.
Who blush not to Prescribe t'exhaust our Gold
For aches which incurable they hold
Whil'st stroak'd and fixt the pamper'd Gout remains
And in an easy Chair euer the Preist detains.
In a thatched Roof secure the Spider thrives,
Both mending by due place their hated liues.
From whose succeeding may this moral grow
That each his propper Station learn to know.

For You my Dear whom late that pain did seize,
Not rich enough to sooth the bad disease
By large expences to engage his stay
Nor yett so poor to fright the Gout away
May you but some unfrequent Visits find
To prove you patient, your Ardelia kind
Who by a tender and officious care
Will ease that Grief or her proportion bear
Since Heaven does in the Nuptial state admitt
Such cares but new endearments to begett
And to allay the hard fatigues of lifey
Gaue the first Maid a Husband, Him a Wife.