A Celebration of Women Writers

"Fragment" by Anne Kingsmill Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661 - 1720)
From Winchilsea, Anne (Kingsmill) Finch, Countess of. Miscellany Poems, on Several Occasions, London: printed for J[ohn] B[arber] and sold by Benj. Tooke at the Middle-Temple-Gate, William Taylor in Pater-Noster-Row, and James Round, in Exchange-Alley, Cornhil, 1713. p. 280-282.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 280]


SO here confin'd, and but to female Clay,
ARDELIA's Soul mistook the rightful Way:
Whilst the soft Breeze of Pleasure's tempting Air
Made her believe, Felicity was there;
And basking in the warmth of early Time,
To vain Amusements dedicate her Prime.
Ambition next allur'd her tow'ring Eye;
For Paradice she heard was plac'd on high,
Then thought, the Court with all its glorious Show
Was sure above the rest, and Paradice below.
There plac'd too soon the flaming Sword appear'd,
Remov'd those Pow'rs, whom justly she rever'd,
Adher'd too in their Wreck, and in their Ruin shar'd.
Now by the Wheels inevitable Round,
With them thrown prostrate to the humble Ground,
No more she takes (instructed by that Fall)
For fix'd, or worth her thought, this rolling Ball: {1}

[Page 281]

Tow'rds a more certain Station she aspires,
Unshaken by Revolts, and owns no less Desires.
But all in vain are Pray'rs, extatick Thoughts,
Recover'd Moments, and retracted Faults,
Retirement, which the World Moroseness calls,
Abandon'd Pleasures in Monastick {2} Walls:
These, but at distance, towards that purpose tend,
The lowly Means to an exalted End;
Which He must perfect, who allots her Stay,
And That, accomplish'd, will direct the way.
Pity her restless Cares, and weary Strife,
And point some Issue to escaping Life;
Which so dismiss'd, no Pen or Human Speech
Th' ineffable Recess can ever teach:
Th' Expanse, the Light, the Harmony, the Throng,
The Bride's Attendance, and the Bridal Song,
The numerous Mansions, and th' immortal Tree,
No Eye, unpurg'd by Death, must ever see,

[Page 282]

Or Waves which through that wond'rous City roll.
Rest then content, my too impatient Soul;
Observe but here the easie Precepts given,
Then wait with chearful hope, till Heaven be known in Heaven.


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


Notes originally by Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1713) are preceded by the notation [AF]. Notes by Myra Reynolds (1903) are credited with the notation [MR]. Uncredited notes are the addition of the page maintainer.

  1. [MR] After l. 17 in the MS. the following lines have been crossed out:
    Nor feeds a hope that boasts but mortal birth,
    Or springs from man though fram'd of Royal earth.
  2. [AF] Wye Colledge in Kent, formerly a Priory. [MR] The parish-church of Wye was, in 1447, endowed by Archbishop Kempe and converted into a college for the education of the youth of that district. At the close of the sixteenth century the site and buildings of the college were willed to the master of the grammar school and the master and mistress of Lady Joanna Thornhill's charity school. The manor of the vicarage of Wye had long been in the possession of the Finches of Eastwell. It is the children of the Free School of Wye whom Lady Winchilsea celebrates in Fanscomb Barn. See W. H. Ireland, History of the County of Kent (London, 1829.), Vol. II, p. 413.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom