A “new” poetess, when it comes to our website, is Anne Killigrew. We never published work from this seventeenth-century poetess before on our website. With the poem Love, the soul of poetry, we want to change that.
About the poetess
The life of Anne Killigrew started somewhere in 1660. The exact date of her birth is unknown. This poetess is known better as a subject of poetry, rather than a poetess. She was the main subject of John Dryden’s To the pious memory of the accomplish’d young lady Mrs. Anne Killigrew. Dryden wrote this poem after her death. The poem was first published in 1686.
Killigrew is also known for her painting, of which only four exist today. The other eleven paintings are considered lost. But, she also wrote poetry. The reason that her work isn’t commonly known has to do with the fact, that she died at the age of 25.
After she died on June 16, 1885, her work was published. There was a lot of doubt if the published work was really hers, to begin with. Critics thought the works that claimed to be written by Killigrew was in fact written by others, such as John Dryden. Even though at least three of her works were added to the book that was published after her death are thought to be written by others. Her father, who was responsible for the publication, found them together with her other notes. These three poems were in her handwriting. He decided to add these three poems to the publication.
Love, the soul of poetry
WHen first Alexis did in Verse delight,
His Muse in Low, but Graceful Numbers walk’t,
And now and then a little Proudly stalk’t;
But never aim’d at any noble Flight:
The Herds, the Groves, the gentle purling Streams,
Adorn’d his Song, and were his highest Theams.
But Love these Thoughts, like Mists, did soon disperse,
Enlarg’d his Fancy, and set free his Muse,
Biding him more Illustrious Subjects choose;
The Acts of Gods, and God-like Men reherse.
From thence new Raptures did his Breast inspire,
His scarce Warm-Heart converted was to Fire.
Th’ exalted Poet rais’d by this new Flame,
With Vigor flys, where late he crept along,
And Acts Divine, in a Diviner Song,
Commits to the eternal Trompe of Fame.
And thus Alexis does prove Love to be,
As the Worlds Soul, the Soul of Poetry.
— Anne Killigrew