Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Christian Milne (1773 - ?)

On a Lady
Who Spoke with Some Ill-Nature of the Advertisement of
My Little Work in the
Aberdeen Journal

Says pert Miss Prue,
"There's something new
In Chalmers' weekly papers -
A shipwright's wife,
In humble life,
Writes rhyme by nightly tapers!

"That folks of taste
Their time should waste
To read them, makes me wonder!
A lowborn fool
Ne'er bred at school,
What can she do but blunder?

"Write rhyme, forsooth!
Upon my truth,
"Twill put it out of fashion;
She can but paint
In colors faint
Rude nature's lowest passion.

"A wife so mean
Should nurse and clean
And mend her husband's jacket,
Not spend her time
In writing rhyme
And raising such a racket!"


While on holiday it was a delight to discover several excellent second hand bookshops, at one of which I picked up a fat volume "British Women Poets of the 19th Century". There were a few I had heard of, such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Christina Rossetti, and many many more that I hadn't. Perhaps sentiments such as those expressed in the poem above - women should stick to domestic business - explain why so many female poets didn't receive greater recognition.

I enjoyed the humour of this poem, and was interested to read about the author, who was the child of a carpenter. Her mother died soon after her birth, and her stepmother tried to prevent her learning to read and write. She married a ship's carpenter, and they had eight children. I was intrigued to read that she received 100 pounds for her only volume of poems, and that she invested it in a sixteenth share of a ship. So her poems must have been quite well received, as it seems unlikely that publication of a book of verse today would earn sufficient funds to buy one sixteenth of a ship, even a small one!

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1 comment:

AJ Ponder said...

Nice find. Nothing like raising a racket. Although being out of fashion is somewhat trying ;)