By neer resemblance see that Bird betray'd


Some occasional Reflections Digested (Tho not with great regularity) into a Poeme.

Primary Text:

MS Folger, 292-3.*
By neer resemblance see that Bird betray'd
Who takes the well wrought Arras for a shade.
There hopes to pearch and with a chearfull Tune
O're-passe the scortchings of the sultry Noon
But soon repuls'd by the obdurate Scean
How swift she turns but turns alas in vain
That piece a Grove this shews an ambient sky
Where immitated Fowl their pinnions ply
Seeming to mount in flight and aiming still more high.
All she outstripps and with a moment's pride
Their understation silent does deride.
Till the dash'd cealing strikes her to the ground
No intercepting shrub to break the fall is found
Recovering breath the window next she gaines
Nor fears a stop from the transparent Panes.

O man what inspiration was thy Guide
Who taught thee Light and Air thus to divide
To lett in all the usefull beames of Day
Yett force as subtil winds without thy Sash to stay
T'extract from Embers by a strange device
Then pollish fair these flakes of sollid Ice
Which silver'd o're redouble all in place
And give thee back thy well or ill-complexion'd Face.
To colors blown exceed the gloomy Bowl
Which did the Wines full excellence controul
These shew the Body whilest you taste the soul.
Its Colour Sparkles motion letts thee see
Though yett th'excesse the Preacher warns to flee
Least men att length as clearly spy through thee.

But we degresse and leave th'imprison'd wretch
Now sinking low now on a loftyer stretch
Flutt'ring in endlesse cercles of dismay
'Till some kind hand directs the certain way
Which through the casement an escape affoards
And leads to ample space the only Heav'n of Birds

So here confin'd and but of female Clay
As much my soul mistook the rightful way
Whilst the soft breeze of Pleasure's tempting air
Made her believe Felicity was there
And basking in the warmth of early time
To vain Amusements dedicate her Prime
Ambition then alur'd her tow'ring Eye
For Paradice she heard was plac'd on high
Then thought the Court was all its glorious sow
Was sure above the rest and Paradice below
There plac'd too soon the flaming sword appear'd
Remov'd those Powers, whom justly she rever'd
Adher'd too in their Wreck, and in their Ruin shar'd.
Now by the Wheels inevitable round
With them thrown prostrate to the humble ground
No more she take's (instructed by that fall)
For fixt or worth her thought this rowling Ball
Nor feed a hope that boasts but mortal birth,
Or springs from man though fram'd of Royal earth
Tow'rds a more certain station she aspires
Unshaken by Revolts; and owns no lesse desires
But all in vain are Pray'rs extatick thoughts
Recover'd moments and retracted faults
Retirement which the World morossenesse calls
Abandon'd pleasures in Montastick walls
These but att distance towards that purpose tend
The lowly means to an exalted end
Which He must perfect who alotts her stay
And that accomplish'd will direct the way.
Pitty her restlesse cares and weary strife
And point some Issue to escaping Life
Which so dismiss'd no Pen or human speech
Th'ineffable Recesse can ever teach
Th'Expanse the Light the Harmony the Throng
The Brides attendance and the Bridal song
The numerous Mantions and th'immortal Tree
No Eye unpurg'd by Death must ever see
Or waves which through that wond'rous Citty rowl
Rest then content my too impatient Soul
Observe but here the easie Precepts given
Then wait with chearfull hope, till Heaven be known in Heaven.


Lines 1-16 freely imitate a description of a bird in La Fontaine, "L'oiseleur, "l'autour, et l'alouette," 1962 ed. G. Couton, Fables, XV, 15, 165-6, part of tradition of presenting bird as vulnerable and frail (e.g., 1687 Barlow, Aesop's Fables, "Of the dove and the hawk," No 68; 1692 L'Estrange, Aesop's Fables, "An Eagle and an Arrow, "A Flowler and a Pigeon," and "A Lark in a Net," Pt 1, Nos 48, 66, 145; 1853 Rowton, Female Poets of Great Britain, Henrietta St John Knight, Lady Luxborough, "The Bullfinch in Town," 135).

Secondary Eds:

Cut up, de-personalized into three poems: 1) "The Bird and the Arras" ("By neer resemblance see that bird betray'd"): 1903 Reynolds, 51 (lines 1-10, an unexplained ellipsis, lines 30-6 with invented title); rpts of 1903 Reynolds: 1930 Fausset, 27-8; 1979 Rogers AF, 56; 2) "Glass" ("O Man! what Inspiration was thy Guide"): 1713 Misc, 264 (lines 16-29 with impersonal title); rpt of 1713: 1903 Reynolds, 50; rpt of 1903 Reynolds: 1930 Fausset, 27; and 3) "Fragment" ("So here confin'd, and but to female Clay"): 1713 Misc, 280-2 (lines 37 to end of poem); rpt of 1713: 1903 Reynolds, 13-14; rpts of 1903 Reynolds: 1928 Murray 34-5; 1930 Fausset 5-6; 1979 Rogers AF, 16-7; 1987 Thompson, 17-8.


Rpts of 1713/1903: "Fragment": 1905, Wordsworth (compiled 1819), 13-5; "The Bird and the Arras": 1979 Rogers, Six Women, 16.


When read as a single text in the way it was originally written, one of Anne Finch's most interesting poems. This is very difficult to date. I have placed it according to its place in the Folger MS. My feeling is it represents a poem much revised and done over a long period of time. This was its final state until Finch decided to publish some of it as fragments in the 1713 Miscellany.
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