To the Nightingale

By Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea 1661–1720 Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
Exert thy voice, sweet harbinger of spring!
    This moment is thy time to sing,
    This moment I attend to praise,
And set my numbers to they lays.
    Free as thine shall be my song;
    As they music, short, or long.
Poets, wild as thee, were born,
    Pleasing best when unconfined,
    When to please is least designed,
Soothing but their cares to rest;
    Cares do still their thoughts molest,
    And still th' unhappy poet's breast,
Like thine, when best he sings, is placed against a thorn.
She begins, Let all be still!
    Muse, they promise now fulfill!
Sweet, oh! sweet, still sweeter yet
Can thy words such accents fit,
Canst thou syllables refine,
Melt a sense that shall retain
Still some spirit of the brain,
Till with sounds like these it join.
    'Twill not be! then change thy note;
    Let division shake thy throat.
Hark! Division now she tries;
Yet as far the Muse outflies.
    Cease then, prithee, cease thy tune;
    Trifler, wilt thou sing till *June*?
Till thy business all lies waste,
And the time of building's past!
    Thus we poets that have speech,                                             
Unlike what they forests teach,
    If a fluent vein be shown
    That's transcendant to our own,
Criticize, reform, or preach,
Or censure what we cannot reach.

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Poet Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea 1661–1720

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

Subjects Spring, Music, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Landscapes & Pastorals, Poetry & Poets, Nature, Arts & Sciences, Trees & Flowers, Animals

Poetic Terms Simile, Ode

 Anne  Finch, Countess of Winchilsea

Biography

Although she has always enjoyed some fame as a poet, Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, has only recently received greater praise and renewed attention. Her diverse and considerable body of work records her private thoughts and personal struggles but also illustrates her awareness of the social and political climate of her era. Not only do Finch’s poems reveal a sensitive mind and a religious soul, but they exhibit great . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Spring, Music, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Landscapes & Pastorals, Poetry & Poets, Nature, Arts & Sciences, Trees & Flowers, Animals

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

Poetic Terms Simile, Ode

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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