A Prize Riddle on Herself When 24 by Elizabeth Frances Amherst Thomas

I’m a strange composition as e’er was in nature,
Being wondrously studious and yet a great prater.
Retirement and quite I love beyond measure,
Yet always am ready for parties of pleasure.
I can cry till I laugh, or laugh till I cry,
Yet few have a temper more equal than I.
My shape is but clumsy, I see it and know it,
Yet always am dancing and skipping to show it.
My visage is round, just the shape of a bowl,
With a great pair of grey eyes resembling an owl.
My nose and my mouth are none of the least,
Though one serves me to smell and the other to taste.
What I gain in these features makes up for no chin,
But here’s my misfortune, my smile’s a broad grin.
My temper is rather addicted to satire,
And yet, without vanity, fraught with good nature.
My friends I can laugh at, but most at myself.
I’ve no inclination for titles or pelf;
And this I can vouch for, believe me or nay,
To my friend’s my own interest does always give sway.
I really am cleanly, but yet my discourse,
If you’re squeamish, may make you as sick as a horse.
Without any voice, I can sing you a song,
And though I grow old, I shall always be young.
I put on assurance, though nat’rally shy,
And most people love me, though none can tell why.
I’m not yet disposed of: come bid for a blessing,
For those who first guess me shall have me for guessing.

From: Lonsdale, Roger (ed.), Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Anthology, 1990, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 180.

Date: 1740

By: Elizabeth Frances Amherst Thomas (c1716-1779)

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