1787
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Della Crusca.

The World, Fashionable Advertiser (4 August 1787).

Hannah Cowley


Writing as "Anna Matilda," Hannah Cowley offers a carefully couched response to Robert Merry's impassioned verses, printed in The World 31 July 1787. The poem is dated "Tuesday Morning, July 31." Hannah Cowley was born in 1743; her husband was very much alive at the time her poem was written.

Anna Seward to Hester Thrale Piozzi: "Internal conviction is to me very impressive, that the Anna Matildas, as well as Della Cruscas, are Merry's; the seldom beauties and frequent blemishes of each being so exactly the same complexion. To the best poems he gives the Della Cruscan signature" 13 March 1788; Letters, ed. Scott (1811) 2:53.

Headnote in Poetry of the World: "We pay no compliment to the Poems which have appeared under the signatures of ARLEY, DELLA CRUSCA, and ANNA MATILDA, in saying, that when the different Pieces which have occasionally honoured this Paper, shall be collected together — those Poems will form its happiest part: — and very proud we are, that the task of thus ushering them into the WORLD, has originally fallen upon us."



Thou bidst! "my purple slumbers fly!"
Day's radiance pours upon my eye.
I wake — I live! the sense o'erpays
The trivial griefs of early days.
What! tho' the rose-bud on my cheek
Spoke youth, and joy — and careless thought,
By guilt, or fear, or shame un-smote:
My "blooming" soul is yet in youth,
Its lively sense attests the truth.

O! I can wander yet, and taste
The beauties of the flow'ry waste;
The Nightingale's deep swell can feel,
Whilst from my lids the soft drops steal;
Rapt! gaze upon the gem-deck'd night,
And mark the clear moon's silent flight;
Whilst the slow river's crumpl'd wave
Repeats the quiv'ring beams she gave.

Nor yet, the pencil strives in vain,
To wake upon the canvas plain,
All the strong passions of the mind,
Or hint the sentiment refin'd;
To its sweet magic yet I bow,
As when Youth deck'd my polish'd brow.
The chissel's feath'ry touch to trace,
Thro' the nerv'd form, or soften'd grace,
Is lent me still. Still I admire,
And kindle at the Poet's fire—
My torch, at Della Crusca's light,
And distant follow his superior flight.

O Time! since these are left me still,
Of lesser thefts e'en take thy fill:
Yes, steal the lustre from my eye,
And bid the soft Carnation fly;
My tresses sprinkle with thy snow,
Which boasted once the auburn glow,
Warp the slim form that was ador'd
By him, so lov'd, my bosom'd LORD—
But leave me, when all these you steal,
The mind to taste, the nerve to feel!

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