A tree the fairest in the wood


Upon an impropable undertaking [sic]

Primary Text:

MS Wellesley, 81-2*.

Secondary Ed:

1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints Wellesley text, 111- 12; McGovern & Hinnant,45-46.


Finch tells an original fable based on a real incident which occurred in her neighborhood. A tree was torn down by a storm, and an attempt to replace it fails because it was somehow inadequate; it withered and died, and no matter what was done to prop it up, it went dry; finally, it left no heirs. Thus you must take "a Scyon from the home-bred tree . . . to fill the place/And Royal Oaks be of his race." The "application" is expressed enigmatically; "Your poject seems as wild as this ... " This project is clearly the calling over to the throne of George of Hanover; a successful Jacobite fable which rues the replacement of the Stuart with the Hanover line. This political fable exemplifies Janet Lewis's thesis that poets of the period with subversive messages turned to fable.


Around time of or just after death of Queen Anne and immediate succession of George I, August 1, 1714.
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