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Elizabeth Carter: a prominent member of the “Bluestocking Circle”

Two poems on her birthday

  • To Mrs. —.
  • WHERE are those hours, on rosy pinions borne,
  • Which brought to every guiltless with success?
  • When Pleasure gladden’d each returning morn,
  • And every evening clos’d in calms of peace.
  • How smil’d each object, when by Friendship led,
  • Thro’ flowery paths we wander’d unconfin’d:
  • Enjoy’d each airy hill, or solemn shade,
  • And left the bustling empty world behind.
  • With philosophic, social sense survey’d
  • The noon-day sky in brighter colours shone:
  • And softer o’er the dewy landscape play’d
  • The peaceful radiance of the silent moon.
  • Those hours are vanish’d with the changing year,
  • And dark December clouds the summer scene:
  • Perhaps, alas! for ever vanish’d here,
  • No more to bless distinguish’d life again.
  • Yet not like those by thoughtless Folly drown’d,
  • In blank Oblivion’s sullen, stagnant deep,
  • Where, never more to pass their fated bound,
  • The ruins of neglected Being sleep.
  • But lasting traces mark the happier hours,
  • Which active zeal in life’s great task employs:
  • Which Science from the waste of Time secures,
  • Or various Fancy gratefully enjoys.
  • O still be ours to each improvement given,
  • Which Friendship doubly to the heart endears:
  • Those hours, when banish’d hence, shall fly to heaven,
  • And claim the promise of eternal years.
  • Written Extempore on the Sea Shore
  • Thou restless fluctuating deep,
  • Expressive of the human mind,
  • In thy for ever varying form
  • My own inconstant self I find.
  • How soft now flow thy peaceful waves,
  • In just gradations to the shore:
  • While on thy brow unclouded shines
  • The regent of the midnight hour.
  • Blest emblem of that equal state,
  • Which I this moment feel within:
  • Where thought to thought succeeding rolls,
  • And all is placid and serene.
  • As o’er thy smoothly flowing tide.
  • Their light the trembling moon-beams dart,
  • My lov’d Eudocia’s image smiles,
  • And gaily brightens all my heart.
  • But ah! this flattering scene of peace
  • By neither can be long possest,
  • When Eurus breaks thy transient calm,
  • And rising sorrows shake my breast.
  • Obscur’d thy Cynthia’s silver ray
  • When clouds opposing intervene:
  • And every joy that Friendship gives
  • Shall fade beneath the gloom of Spleen.
Elizabeth Carter

Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806), who was born on December 16, was an English poet, classicist and translator. One of more prominent members of the “Bluestocking Circle,” a mid-18th-century women’s literary and social movement, Carter commanded respect among her peers – both men and women – for her translation of the 2nd-century Greek philosophical work, the Discourses of Epictetus. She became friends with many of the age’s literary lights, including critic and poet Samuel Johnson. Her poetry reflected an educated mind informed by classical learning and comtemporary philosophical concerns.

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The Wilma to Power

Woo-ten waves goodbye
  • To Mrs. —.
  • WHERE are those hours, on rosy pinions borne,
  • Which brought to every guiltless with success?
  • When Pleasure gladden’d each returning morn,
  • And every evening clos’d in calms of peace.
  • How smil’d each object, when by Friendship led,
  • Thro’ flowery paths we wander’d unconfin’d:
  • Enjoy’d each airy hill, or solemn shade,
  • And left the bustling empty world behind.
  • With philosophic, social sense survey’d
  • The noon-day sky in brighter colours shone:
  • And softer o’er the dewy landscape play’d
  • The peaceful radiance of the silent moon.
  • Those hours are vanish’d with the changing year,
  • And dark December clouds the summer scene:
  • Perhaps, alas! for ever vanish’d here,
  • No more to bless distinguish’d life again.
  • Yet not like those by thoughtless Folly drown’d,
  • In blank Oblivion’s sullen, stagnant deep,
  • Where, never more to pass their fated bound,
  • The ruins of neglected Being sleep.
  • But lasting traces mark the happier hours,
  • Which active zeal in life’s great task employs:
  • Which Science from the waste of Time secures,
  • Or various Fancy gratefully enjoys.
  • O still be ours to each improvement given,
  • Which Friendship doubly to the heart endears:
  • Those hours, when banish’d hence, shall fly to heaven,
  • And claim the promise of eternal years.
  • Written Extempore on the Sea Shore
  • Thou restless fluctuating deep,
  • Expressive of the human mind,
  • In thy for ever varying form
  • My own inconstant self I find.
  • How soft now flow thy peaceful waves,
  • In just gradations to the shore:
  • While on thy brow unclouded shines
  • The regent of the midnight hour.
  • Blest emblem of that equal state,
  • Which I this moment feel within:
  • Where thought to thought succeeding rolls,
  • And all is placid and serene.
  • As o’er thy smoothly flowing tide.
  • Their light the trembling moon-beams dart,
  • My lov’d Eudocia’s image smiles,
  • And gaily brightens all my heart.
  • But ah! this flattering scene of peace
  • By neither can be long possest,
  • When Eurus breaks thy transient calm,
  • And rising sorrows shake my breast.
  • Obscur’d thy Cynthia’s silver ray
  • When clouds opposing intervene:
  • And every joy that Friendship gives
  • Shall fade beneath the gloom of Spleen.
Elizabeth Carter

Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806), who was born on December 16, was an English poet, classicist and translator. One of more prominent members of the “Bluestocking Circle,” a mid-18th-century women’s literary and social movement, Carter commanded respect among her peers – both men and women – for her translation of the 2nd-century Greek philosophical work, the Discourses of Epictetus. She became friends with many of the age’s literary lights, including critic and poet Samuel Johnson. Her poetry reflected an educated mind informed by classical learning and comtemporary philosophical concerns.

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