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Many of them were written for a few chosen friends, and part of their meaning therefore remains enigmatic. Another discourse upon friendship, but now a plea, a self-vindication, resisting Lucasia's opinion that Orinda's overt reiterated courting of her is"impertinent." Lucasia accused Orinda of "distrust"; Orinda asks Lucasia her to be kind.
By Ellen Moody Frontispiece portrait from Poems 1667 It is the purpose of this essay to propose a chronological (and illuminating) order for the original poems of Katherine Fowler Philips (1631-1664), or, as she chose to call herself, Orinda, This ordering will enable us better to understand Philips's poems, and I will use the contexts suggested for the poems to discuss the personal meaning and aesthetic merit of them, which have been obscured because we are even now [that is, in 1987 when the essay was published] still reading a reprint of the posthumous 1667 edition.
Here, first is a brief history of the significant publications of all Orinda's work. Two-stanza Pindaric ode of anapestic couplets of varying lengths, which produce mournful cadence; metaphors drawn from symbolic landscape of night darkness and a "crying heart" ("thy dawning it seeks"). In this updating I include the text as it is not well known: Observe the weary birds e're night be done, How they would fain call up the tardy Sun With Feathers hung with dew, And trembling voices too.
Catherine Mambretti printed a manuscript poem in the National Library of Wales, "To the Right Honorable Lady Mary Boteler on her marriage to my Lord Cavendish October 1662" (Orinda later re-named her Lady Mary Policrite). A desperate apology for her need for outward signs of their friendship; asks Lucasia not to "quit" here, to "add some patience" to her many virtues.
Using a first-line index of manuscripts in the Bodleian, Mambretti also attributed to Katherine, and printed, "On the Coronation"; it is a companion poem to Philips's "On the Fair Weather just at the Coronation." The significant scholarship which will enable us to annotate and re-order the Cotterell-Saintsbury text is as follows.
Thus his edition leaves Katherine Philips's poetry with the same skewed emphasis and disorder that Saintsbury's reprint of Cotterell left it. Four-stanza Pindaric ode of basically dactyllic couplets of varying length; this poem compares interestingly with "A sea voyage from Tenby to Bristol, 5 of September 1652, Sent [from Bristol] to Lucasia" (No. Both humorous, gracious compliments to Lucasia, the earlier in the conceited Cavalier style, the later in the broader metaphoric prosaic style of Cowley.
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Thomas substitutes a much better text than Saintsbury's or Cotterell's; he prefaces the texts with a description of the manuscripts and other printed books where the poems may be found; he includes informative notes; but without a comprehensible order, the poetry remains opaque to a reader who is not impeccably versed in her life history.
The political poems are sandwiched in before the very end where the moral/religious predominate over the personal/autobiographical poems. Orinda refers to "dying" from love's "quiver" and to "the sad unusual story/How my wretched heart was torn." She expresses the confusion she feels upon the shattering of her vision of Lucasia.
I also reprint (Thomas does not) Katherine's translation of a pastoral "Golden Age" poem, "La Solitude" by Antoine Girard Saint-Amant (1594-1661) as "Solitude".
This edition is readily available, and at this time, it is used as the basis of Katherine Philips' canon in scholarly essays. In 1697 four letters from Orinda to an unknown Berenice were printed in a collection of familiar letters by various hands; and in 17 Bernard Lintot printed a series of letters from Orinda to Poliarchus, as she liked to call Cotterell. 1660" Dactyllic triplets create mood of light elevation in which, as Orinda delights in Cooper's painting, she praises art in the "la belle nature" mod or ideal of art. This is a veiled attempt to persuade Lucasia-Calanthe to marry Poliarchus (Cotterell).
Although both groups of letters are generally accepted as authentic, they have been tampered with by polishing, pruning, and, perhaps, sensationalizing.. "An Answer to another persuading a Lady to Marriage" ca. Forceful apostrophe to Marcus Trevor ("bold youth") then wooing Lucasia (who appears as Calanthe in the letters between Poliarchus and Orinda).