1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Frances Wright

Anonymous, "Extract from an Ode to Miss Frances Wright" Ladies' Literary Port Folio [Philadelphia] 1 (27 January 1829) 55.



Thou wonder of the age, from whom
Religion waits her final doom,
Her quiet death, her Euthanasia;
Thou, in whose eloquence and bloom
The age beholds a new Aspasia!
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Ah, dear Miss Wright, 'twas kind of thee
To cross for us the ocean sea;
'Twas too magnanimously kind,
When that green Isle thou left'st behind
Has quite as many priests as we:
While thousands, with their lawful wives,
Are leading quiet humdrum lives,
Read their old Bibles every day,
And teach their little ones to pray;
And one, at least, I'm told, in seven,
Sighs his last ignorant breath away
In wedlock and the hope of heaven:
And ruddy lips, and cheeks of rose,
Are never chosen to represent
The softer sex in Parliament,
And sweetly lisp the Ayes and Noes.
But all the Generals are men,
And not a woman is a sailor,
Save a bright instance now and then,
Like her who loved false Billy Taylor,
And shot him walking in the Strand,
With his gay lady in his hand.
What has that hapless country done,
That thou should'st cast her off forever,
And on our own ungrateful one
Waste the bright sunshine of thy favor?
For here thou scatterest seed on rocks,
We keep our stupid English fashions;
A stiff-necked generation mocks
Thy novel doctrines of the passions;
A nation of immortal carriage
Perversely given to priests and marriage,
Where now and then a female face
Still blushes with exceeding grace.
———*———*———*———
Then lady turn thee, yet again,
To thy own land beyond the main,
Weeping and stretching o'er the sea
Her fond imploring arms to thee.
Yes, go; as is a patriot's duty,
Reform thy native country first,
Clap a cocked hat on modish beauty,
And bid the parsons do their worst.
Then haply thou may'st, gain, even here,
Some followers of thy high career,
When they who bow to fashion's sway,
And chase the bubbles of the day,
Read with a simper of dismay
What code of morals is the passion
In the last La Belle Assemble
Or Gemmens' Magazine of Fashion.
New York Evening Post.