Cou'd our first Father at his toilsome Plough
Title: Adam Pos'd
Primary Text: MS Folger, 250*.
Cou'd our first Father at his toilsome Plough,
Thorns in his Path and Labour in his Brow,
Cloath'd only in a rude unpollish'd Skinne,
Could he a vain fantastick Nymph have seen
In all her Airs, in all her antick graces,
Her various Fassions and still more various Faces,
How had itt pos'd that skill which late assign'd
Just Appellations to each several kind,
A right Idea of the sight to frame,
T'have guess'd from what new Element she came,
T'have hit the wav'ring Form or given this Thing a Name
(MS Folger, p. 250).
Secondary Eds: 1713 Misc, 123; rpt of 1713: Reynolds, 149; rpts of 1903 Reynolds: 1928 Murray, 56; 1930 Fausset, 71; 1979 Rogers AF, 104; 1987 Thompson, 63.
18C: 1709 Tonson, 232.
20C: Rpt of 1709/1713/1903: 1969 Tillotson, 795; 1974 Bernikow, 83; 1990 Lonsdale, 12.
Comment: This may seem harsh on women, but it's understandable coming from a learned somber older woman and the full context is given by the poem which follows it in the Folger MS, "The Appology". It's witty, brilliant; vain frivolous women are subhuman things. She is indignant on her sex's behalf. Messenger points outs the germinal idea for this poem may be partly found in Donne's Satyre 6, a line on a courtier as "A thing, which would have pos'd Adam to name."
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Page Last Updated 8 January 2003