earlyamericanwomenpoets



Martha Wadsworth Brewster, who lived in Lebanon, Connecticut, published her Poems on Divers Subjects in New London (1757) and in Boston (1758). From this volume, we learn that her husband was named Oliver; her daughter, Ruby; and her son, Wadsworth. Brewster also provides a short notice (in prose) of a dream she had after her father's death in 1744, in which his spirit descended from Heaven to answer her questions about religion. Another notice relates the way in which Brewster vindicated herself from accusations of plagiarism. A Biblical extract (Chronicles Chapter 6, Verses 16-18) was presented to her "to translate into verse, in a few minutes Extempore," which task she accordingly accomplished.

"Pardon her bold Attempt"


Pardon her bold Attempt who has reveal'd
Her thoughts to View, more fit to be Conceal'd;
Since thus to do was urged Vehemently,
Yet most no doubt will call it vanity;
Condemn the Stile you may without Offence,
Call it Insipid, wanting Eloquence.
I Blush to Gaul so delicate an Ear,
Which to Sublimer Sonnets do adhere;
For why my Muse had but a single Aim,
My Self and nearest Friends to Entertain;
But since some have a gift for Novelty,
I here presume upon your Clemency,
For rare it is to see a Female Bard,
Or that my Sex in Print have e're appear'd:
Let me improve my Talent tho' but small,
And thus it humbly wait upon you shall.


An Acrostick for my only Son


While Amorous, Gay, and Sanguine swells thy Veins,
An Off'ring of first Fruits, Jehovah claims.
Due Odours of a sweet Perfume Present,
Steep'd in the Blood of the New Covenant;
What vulgar Notes Applaud, must be Suspected;
Obedience to the Standard ne'er Neglected:
Retire within the Mind, and shut the Door,
To all disorder'd Passions, Rude and Sow'r,
Here summons, and exert each Manly Pow'r.

By Adequate, and Studious Observation,
Rise to the Poles, then dive to Navigation.
Early inrich thy Heart with moral Virtues,
Whereby to rectify invarted Nature:
Survey the Globe of Man, then turn thine Eyes
To search through Nature's obscure Mysteries;
Enby may Hiss in Vain, at virt'ous Minds,
Regent in her own Breast, she sits Inshrin'd.


An Acrostick for my only Daughter


Receive good Counsel of the Wife, nor let
Unhallow'd Lips Provoke, or Cause to Fret.
Be Wife and Virt'ous, Modest, Chast and Grave,
Increase in Learning, practise what you have,
Enter the Light 'gainst Sin, with courage Brave.

Be not Exalted far above your Sphere;
Regard those Minds that truly Noble are:
Esteem a real Friend, if such there be;
With Kindness overcome an Enemie:
Set not your Heart on Pomp, and Worldly Pleasure,
Tis not a lasting, nor a solid Treasure.
Employ your Thoughts on Good, delight in Reading,
Receive the Lord, and Live, and Die Believing.



A Letter to My Daughter Ruby Bliss


My only Daughter Dear, my Heart's Delight,
Since cruel Distance keeps thee from my Sight:
I breath forth Sighs into the empty Air,
My best Desires pursue thee ev'ry where.
My ardent Love can reach thee where thou art,
And mingle with thy sympathizing Heart.
My Breast a Magazine of tend'rest Passions,
Pregnant with Grief, seeks Vent in sev'ral Fashions:
Sometimes the optick Fountains up do break,
And liquid Salts do deluge o'er my Cheek:
Each Filial due Performance strikes my Heart,
And mournful Pleasure shoots through ev'ry Part;
[illegible] Fancies o'er the Mind still Float,
Sometimes your Joys, and pros'prous State I doat,
But grim Distrust soon rifles my Repose,
Presents you Sick, Bereav'd and full of Woes:
O Absence! Absence! sharper than a Thorn,
The tender Sian from the Stock is Torn:
But sure my fond affections wildly Rove,
My nobler Pow'rs in higher Orbs should move.
O Glorious Landlord! Thou hast pruned me,
Then Grant me Grace, to bear much Fruit to Thee.
My pleasant Branch, which thou hast Grafted, Lord,
Make her the charge of Angles, and afford,
Thy special Benediction while Alive,
Then to some Glorious Mansion her Receive;
But while she's Station'd here, let her obtain
Such precious Fruit as shall embalm her Name:
Let Bud, and Branch, and Tree securely stand,
Drest by the Culture of thy Gracious Hand:
Planted by purling Streams, and crystial Founts,
In Gospel Soil, and circle-ed about,
With a bright Rainbow of the Promises,
A sure Defence and costly purchas'd Peace.
Chear up my drooping Heart, shake of thy Woes,
Tho' cruel Distance means to interpose.
There is a Place where we may Daily meet,
With joynt Request, before the Mercy Seat;
In hopes of which your tender Mother rests,
Until your Countenance her Eyes shall Bless.


Sources

Brewster, Martha Wadsworth. Poems on Divers Subjects. New London: John Green, 1757.
Cowell, Pattie Lee. Women Poets in Pre-Revolutionary America, 1650-1775. University of Massachusetts, 1977.