Archive for ‘18th Century’

Friday, 6 January 2023

To Mr J.B. at Watboo, in Carolina by Charles Woodmason

The price of rice, or talk on Change,
What ships arriv’d, what tidings strange,
Be ne’er concern’d to know:
Small store will nature’s wants supply—
Health, peace, contentment, till we dye,
Is all we need below.

Our life, at best, is but a dream;
However pleasant it may seem,
Its minutes swiftly fly:
Old age o’ertakes us by degrees;
And when our flowing spirits freeze,
Farewell to ev’ry joy.

Your shrubs and eglantines, so fair,
And flourets sweet, beyond compare;
How transient is their date!
Just so is ours,—then who’d perplex
His mind with fears, pine, fret, or vex
At Life’s uncertain state?

Beneath the laurel’s spreading shade,
With many a swain, and many a maid,
Let’s pass our fleeting time:
Replenish oft the circling bowl;
Quaff, quaff the cordial of the soul;
Enjoy, not waste, our prime.

Haste then, ye loit’ring Negroes,—haste,—
Reach me the glass,—no time I’ll waste,
Since short our period here.
Let Delia grace the jocund ring,
Let Phillis dance, and Chloe sing,
‘Timm mirth shall banish care.

From: C.W., “To Mr J.B. at Watboo, in Carolina” in The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. Volume 23, 1753, p. 242.

Date: 1753

By: Charles Woodmason (c1720-1789)

Sunday, 18 December 2022

Lines 1-26 of “The Poet” by Joseph Swain

Hard is his lot, whose soul (by Nature form’d,
For glorious ends; by noblest passions warm’d;
With tow’ring genius fit to rank his name
Among the foremost in the lists of fame),
Fast bound in Penury’s relentless chain,
Attempts to rise, but still attempts in vain.
Thus, plum’d with conscious worth and strong desire,
By Nature taught to strike the trembling lyre,
Inglorious offspring of some lab’ring hind,
By birth a peasant, but a prince in mind,
Th’ aspiring Poet grasps at transient fame,
And forfeits peace—to purchase what?—A name.
Eager he soars on Fancy’s rapid wings,
And, mounting Pegasus, looks down on kings;
Spurs his swift courier thro’ the yielding air,
While to his raptur’d thought new heavens appear;
Thro’ hosts of burning orbs undaunted rides,
Along vast realms of streaming brightness glides;
Beholds new wonders till on wonders rise,
And sees the light of, Heaven with mortal eyes!
Till (spent with toil, and almost run to death)
Poor Pegasus stops short, and pants for breath.
Lost in, the labyrinth of ambient fire,
The Muse, affrighted, drops her trembling lyre,
Down falls the Bard, forbad the bliss to taste,
And in a garret finds himself at last!

From: Swain, Joseph, A collection of poems, on several occasions; containing The Poet, Solitude, Beauty, Hendon Grove, Verses on Miss V*****n, Benevolence, and Gratitude, 1781, T Bensley: London, pp. 1-2.

Date: 1781

By: Joseph Swain (1761-1796)

Monday, 5 December 2022

Excerpt from “The Modern Art of Breeding Bees, a Poem” by Joshua Dinsdale

The Bees, who loaded at the Dome arrive,
First store the Golden Honey in the Hive,
Then from their sep’rate Cells suspended cling,
And buz and flutter with a trembling Wing,
Immediately you’ll see the others come,
With Signs of Gladness to the Lab’rers Hum,
Then pick the waxen Treasure from the Thigh,
And back the Lab’rer cuts the smiling Sky,
Triumphant o’er the flow’ry Kingdom reigns,
And tributary makes the blooming Plains.

But while the Youth pour o’er the shining Field,
And the sweet-smelling Cowslips Forage yield,
The Seniors in the public Care have Part,
And form the angled Cells with curious Art;
Or, for the Young prepare the downy Bed,
And soft the od’rous flow’ry Powder spread.
For if they early in the Summer’s Days,
Begin the Structure of their Comb to raise,
Before descends the golden Globe of Light,
And o’er the shaded Landschape steals the Night,
Four Thousand Cells their Diligence declare,
A Monument of nice instinctive Care!

Each has his Task; this makes the City’s Walls,
On this the shapeless Wax to Labour calls;
Another, for mechanic Judgment known,
Reviews the Buildings of the waxen Town;
That none with useless Weight o’erbear the rest,
But all alike be in Proportion prest.

Others obsequious th’ Artist’s Steps pursue,
And give by Order the Proportion due;
Here add, and there with Caution take away,
And Skill perfective, beyond Man’s, display.

While some are busy in a nicer Art,
And glaze and polish the sweet Cells with Art.

No City, with proud Heav’n-ascending Spires,
The human Mind with juster Cause admires,
Than that nice Art by which the Bees contrive
The curious Combs within the strawy Hive,
And that Variety of useful Ways
Which thro’ the Citadel the Swarm conveys.

From: Dinsdale, Joshua, The Modern Art of Breeding Bees, a Poem, Joseph Davidson, London, pp. 11-13.

Date: 1740

By: Joshua Dinsdale (fl. 1740-1751)

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Verses Occasioned by a Young Lady’s asking the Author, What was a Cure for Love? by Thomas Godfrey

From me, my Dear, O seek not to receive
What e’en deep-read Experience cannot give.
We may, indeed, from the Physician’s skill
Some Med’cine find to cure the body’s ill.
But who e’er found the physic for the soul,
Or made th’ affections bend to his controul?
When thro’ the blaze of passion objects show
How dark’s the shade! how bright the colours glow!
All the rous’d soul with transport’s overcome,
And the mind’s surly Monitor is dumb.

In vain the sages turn their volumes o’er,
And on the musty page incessant pore,
Still mighty LOVE triumphant rules the heart,
Baffles their labour, and eludes their art.

Say what is science, what is reason’s force
To stop the passions wild ungovern’d course?
Reason, ’tis true, may point the rocky shore,
And shew the danger, but can serve no more,
From wave to wave the wretched wreck is tost,
And reason ‘s in th’ impetuous torrent lost.

In vain we strive, when urg’d by cold neglect,
By various means our freedom to effect,
Tho’ like the bee from sweet to sweet we rove,
And search for ease in the vast round of Love,
Tho’ in each Nymph we meet a kind return,
Still in the firstfond hopeless flame we burn,
That dear idea still our thoughts employs,
And blest variety itself e’en cloys.
So exiles banish’d from their native home
Are met with pity wheresoe’er they come,
Yet still their native soil employs their care,
And death were ease to lay their ashes there.

From: Godfrey, Thomas, Juvenile Poems on Various Subjects. With The Prince of Parthia, a tragedy, 1765, Henry Miller: Philadelphia, pp. 13-14.

Date: 1758

By: Thomas Godfrey (1736-1763)

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

The Peasant by Gottfried August Bürger

To His Gracious Tyrant

Who are you, Prince, that without fear,
Your wagon wheel may crush me,
Your horse may dash me down?

Who are you, Prince, that into  my flesh
Your friend, your hunting-dog, unwhipped,
May sink his claws and jaw?

Who are you, that through crops and woods,
The yelling of your hunt will drive me,
Panting like the game?—

The crop that’s trampled by your hunt,
What horse and dog and you devour,
The bread, Prince, is mine.

You, Prince, did not, with harrow and plow,
Sweat through the day of harvest.
The effort and the bread are mine!—

Ha! You claim authority from God?
God hands out blessings; you but rob!
You are not sent by God, tyrant!

From: Mathieu, Gustave and Stern, Guy, German Poetry: A Selection from Walther von der Vogelweide to Bertolt Brecht in German with English Translation, 1970, Dover Publications: New York,  p; 31.

Date: 1773 (original in German); 1959 (translation in English)

By: Gottfried August Bürger (1747-1794)

Translated by: Gustave Bording Mathieu (1921-2007) and Guy Stern (1922- )

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Exiled from Mona by Goronwy Owen

May God in Heaven be my tower,
For outcast of man am I;
By hope forsaken and power,
Poor and in misery.
Dear Mona of my fathers,
Alas for my lonely lot,
Where once I played there gathers
A people that know me not.
Where I had friends an hundred,
Scarce one would be taking the hand
Of a noteless bard far sundered
From Mona’s lovely strand.
Her bold old tongue ne’er greets me,
Stilled is her wild sweet strain,
And when their memory meets me
My pulse is athrill with pain.
And O! I am so breast-stricken,
So heart-full of sorrow sharp,
Bright song no longer can quicken
One chord of joy on my harp.
Yet as I to Zion resemble
Our Mona, my Muse takes wings,
And my hands once more are a-tremble
Through all of its sighing strings.

From: Graves, Alfred Perceval, Welsh Poetry Old and New, in English Verse, 1912, Longmans, Green, and Co: London and New York, p. 49.

Date: 1754 (original in Welsh); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Goronwy Owen (1723-1769)

Translated by: Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931)

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Song by Anne Batten Cristall

Through spring-time walks, which flowers perfum’d,
I chas’d a wild capricious fair,
Where hyacinths and jonquils bloom’d,
Chanting gay sonnets through the air:
Hid amid a briary dell,
Or ‘neath a hawthorn tree,
Her sweet enchantments led me on,
And still deluded me.

While summer’s splendent glory smiles
My ardent love in vain essay’d,
I strove to win her heart by wiles,
But still a thousand pranks she play’d;
Still o’er each sun-burnt furzy hill,
Wild, playful, gay, and free,
She laugh’d and scorn’d, I chas’d her still,
And still she banter’d me.

When autumn waves her golden ears,
And wafts o’er fruits her pregnant breath,
The sprightly lark its pinions rears,
I chas’d her o’er the daisy’d heath;
Sweet hare-bells trembled in the vale,
And all around was glee;
Still, wanton as the timid hart,
She swiftly flew from me.

Now winter lights its chearful fire,
While jests with frolic mirth resound,
And draws the wand’ring beauty nigher,
‘Tis now too cold to rove around:
The Christmas game, the playful dance,
Incline her heart to glee,
Mutual we glow, and kindling love
Draws every wish to me.

From: Cristall, Anne Batten, Poetical Sketches, 1995, University of Virginia, pp. 148-149.

Date: 1795

By: Anne Batten Cristall (1769-1848)

Friday, 13 May 2022

Better Brown than Blonde by Elisabeth Koolart-Hoofman

Don’t ever change your colour, fair brunettes,
For lighter hue or blonder tress.
The rose looks pale beside dark violets
And white grapes never equal reds.
How can scent of blooms soon gone
Rival ripe morellos?
Does the proud brown oak not throne
High above white willows?
Unlike others I’ll praise brown
Rather than light yellows;
What Nature aims to clothe in loveliness,
She gives a darker hood or dress.
So never change your colour, fair brunettes,
For lighter hue or blonder tress.

From: van Gemert, Lia; Joldersma, Hermina; van Marion, Olga; van der Poel, Dieuwke; and Schenkeveld-van der Dussen, Riet (eds.), Women’s Writing from the Low Countries 1200-1875: A Bilingual Anthology, 2010, Amsterdam University Press: Amsterdam, p. 347.

Date: 1774 (published) (original in Dutch); 2010 (translation in English)

By: Elisabeth Koolart-Hoofman (1664-1736)

Translated by: Myra Heerspink Scholz (1944- )

Sunday, 10 April 2022

[Overflowing with Love] by Shiimoto Saimaro

Overflowing with love
the cat as coquettish
as a courtesan.

From: Addiss, Stephen; Yamamoto, Fumiko; and Yamamoto, Akira (eds. and transls.), Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems, 2009, Shambhala Library: Boston, p. 7.

Date: c1730 (original in Japanese); 2009 (translation in English)

By: Shiimoto Saimaro (1656-1737)

Translated by: Stephen Addiss (1935- ), Fumiko Yamamoto (1934- ) and Akira Yamamoto (19??- )

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Man-Hater, A Song by Henry Carey

What’s Man, but a perfidious Creature,
Of an inconstant, fickle Nature,
Deceitful, and Conceited too,
Boasting of more than he can do?

Beware, ye heedless Nymphs, beware,
For Men will Lye, and Fawn, and Swear;
But, when they once have gain’d the Prize,
Good Heav’ns! How they will Tyranize!


Date: 1713

By: Henry Carey (c1687-1743)