Ann Yearsley Poems

Ann Yearsley Poems,The 18th century English romantic poet Ann Yearsley was remarkable in that she had no education to speak of, having grown up in a fairly rustic environment, and yet she was one of the most accomplished, working class female poets of her day.

She married a yeoman farmer and worked as a milkmaid on the farm but, despite these humble beginnings, she published a number of collections of poems, mostly with the help of subscription and the patronage of people like Hannah More and Frederick Hervey, the 4th Earl of Bristol. Like many women in the Bristol area she was also a fervent anti-slavery campaigner.

 

Ann Yearsley Poems
Ann Yearsley Poems

Ann Yearsley Bio

She was born Ann Cromartie on the 8th July 1753 in the Clifton district of Bristol. Life was hard at home and she taught herself to read, with some help from a brother, using such texts as Shakespearian plays and epic poems like Milton’s Paradise Lost. When she was old enough she married at the age of 21 and settled to a life as a yeoman farmer’s wife, producing six children for him.

After not too long though the family were almost destitute but, despite this, Ann was determined not to neglect her reading and writing. Help came when she came to the attention of the Bristolian philanthropist and poet Hannah More. Miss More took her work and arranged to have it published using the subscription method. She made the following comments about Ann Yearsley:

 

Ann Yearsley Poems
Ann Yearsley Poems
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She also seemed to be astounded with Ann’s skill at interpreting  literature with accuracy:: 2643a52bf2a4197977f75b33a2e74d68 Ann Yearsley Poems

Ann Yearsley Poems
Ann Yearsley Poems

Poems on Several Occasions was her first collection, published in 1785, and featured such themes as ordinary domestic life and religious beliefs. The collection was soon successful but the two women had a disagreement about the sharing of profits and this led to Ann breaking away to pursue an alternative publication route.

More always stated that she was more concerned with making sure her protégé survived rather than got rich, knowing what a poor state she had found her not long before. Two years later, supported by the Earl of Bristol, Yearsley published Poems on Various Subjects  and, twelve years later, The Rural Lyre: A Volume of Poems came out in 1796.

Ann Yearsley was widowed in 1803 and moved east to the Wiltshire town of Melksham.

She survived for only three more years unfortunately, and died in 1806 aged 52.

Ann Yearsley Poems
Ann Yearsley Poems

 

Ann Yearsley Poems

 

“To Indifference”

INDIFFERENCE come! thy torpid juices shed
On my keen sense: plunge deep my wounded heart,
In thickest apathy, till it congeal,
Or mix with thee incorp’rate. Come, thou foe
To sharp sensation, in thy cold embrace
A death-like slumber shall a respite give
To my long restless soul, tost on extreme,
From bliss to pointed woe. Oh, gentle Pow’r,
Dear substitute of Patience! thou canst ease
The Soldier’s toil, the gloomy Captive’s chain,
The Lover’s anguish, and the Miser’s fear.

Proud Beauty will not own thee! Her loud boast
Is VlRTUE–while thy chilling breath alone
Blows o’er her soul. bidding her passions sleep.

Mistaken Cause, the frozen Fair denies
Thy saving influence. VIRTUE never lives,
But in the bosom, struggling with its wound:
There she supports the conflict, there augments
The pang of hopeless Love, the senseless stab
Of gaudy Ign’rance, and more deeply drives
The poison’d dart, hurl’d by the long-lov’d friend;
Then pants with painful victory. Bear me hence,
Thou antidote to pain! thy real worth
Mortal can never know. What’s the vain boast
Of Sensibility but to be wretched?
In her best transports lives a latent sting,
Which wounds as they expire. On her high heights
Our souls can never sit; the point so nice,
We quick fly off–secure, but in descent.

To SENSIBILITY, what is not bliss
Is woe. No placid medium’s ever held
Beneath her torrid line, when straining high
The fibres of the soul. Of Pain, or Joy,
She gives too large a share; but thou, more kind,
Wrapp’st up the heart from both, and bidd’st it rest
In ever-wish’d-for ease. By all the pow’rs
Which move within the mind for diff’rent ends,
I’d rather lose myself with thee and share
Thine happy indolence, for one short hour,
Than live of Sensibility the tool
For endless ages. Oh! her points have pierc’d
My soul, till, like a sponge, it drinks up woe.

Then leave me, Sensibility! be gone,
Thou chequer’d angel! Seek the soul refin’d:
I hate thee! and thy long progressive brood
Of joys and mis’ries. Soft Indiff’rence, come!
In this low cottage thou shalt be my guest,
Till Death shuts out the hour: here down I’ll sink
With thee upon my couch of homely rush,
Which fading forms of Friendship, Love, or Hope,
Must ne’er approach. Ah!–quickly hide, thou pow’r,
Those dead intruding images! Oh, seal
The lids of mental sight, lest I abjure
My freezing supplication.–AII is still.

Idea, smother’d, leaves my mind a waste,
Where SENSIBILITY must lose her prey.

 Ann Yearsley Poems
Ann Yearsley Poems

 

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