Letter to ARC On Her Wishing to be Called Anna

By Matilda Bethem 1776–1852 Matilda Bethem
Forgive me, if I wound your ear,
         By calling of you Nancy,
Which is the name of my sweet friend,
         The other’s but her fancy.

Ah, dearest girl! how could your mind
         The strange distinction frame?
The whimsical, unjust caprice,
         Which robs you of your name.

Nancy agrees with what we see
         A being wild and airy;
Gay as a nymph of Flora’s train,
         Fantastic as a fairy.

But Anna’s of a different kind,
         A melancholy maid,
Boasting a sentimental soul,
         In solemn pomp arrayed.

Oh ne’er will I forsake the sound,
         So artless and so free
Be what you will with all mankind,
         But Nancy still with me.

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Poet Matilda Bethem 1776–1852

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Biography

Biographer and portrait painter Matilda Betham was raised in Stonham Aspal in Suffolk, England, the firstborn in a family of 15 children. She learned portrait painting in order to support herself and moved to London when her family was undergoing financial difficulties. Betham showed her work at the Royal Academy and painted portraits of poets George Dyer and Robert Southey. She met Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1802 when she . . .

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Poems by Matilda Bethem

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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