“Leave me to enjoy the sweet Freedom I love”

I wish I had kept a commonplace book. I could never muster enough discipline or time to do so although there are bits and pieces of things I found interesting—from magazine articles to photos, from odd words to poems, from recipes to DYI columns—scattered here and there in physical notes or on my computer. MILCAH MARTHA MOORE (1740-1829), however, did keep a commonplace book: copying poems she found interesting, letters from friends, items from newspapers and passages from books, usually for her own pleasure, but often with the intention of sharing them with friends or relatives in the Philadelphia area. Poems she copied were frequently by women who had not been able to publish them but who were able to achieve some recognition by having them circulated among women friends.

What follows is a poem titled “To Sophronia” by HANNAH GRIFFITTS (1727-1817), Moore’s second cousin, signing herself “Fidelia.” The name “Sophronia” was often used to refer to an unmarried woman so the title is apt for this poem praising the single life.

I’ve neither Reserve or aversion to Man,
(I assure you Sophronia in jingle)
But to keep my dear Liberty, long as I can,
Is the Reason I chuse to live single,
My Sense, or the Want of it—free you may jest
And censure, dispise, or impeach,
But the Happiness center’d within my own Breast,
Is luckily out of yr. reach.
The Men, (as a Friend) I prefer, I esteem,
And love them as well as I ought
But to fix all my Happiness, solely in Him
Was never my Wish or my Thought,
The cowardly Nymph, you so often reprove,
Is not frighted by Giants* like these,
Leave me to enjoy the sweet Freedom I love
And go marry—as soon as you please.

Fidelia

[Marginal note:]
* The satyrical Sneers thrown on the single Life.—

Illustration: Anonymous manuscript, mid seventeenth century, containing poems by various authors, in various hands. Includes Shakespeare’s second sonnet. James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, found HERE. The poem appears in Milcah Martha Moore’s Book: A Commonplace Book from Revolutionary America edited by Catherine La Courreye Blecki and Karen A. Wulf (University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 1997), pp 173-74.

posted July 23rd, 2018 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Griffitts, Hannah, Moore, Milcah Martha, Philadelphia, Poetry, Primary sources


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