Of sleepless nights, and days with cares o'ercast


To the Right honourable the Countess of Hartford with her volume of Poems.

Primary Text:

No MS; 1741 Birch, X, 179*.

Secondary Eds:

Rpt of 1741: 1903 Reynolds, 61; rpt of 1903 Reynolds: 1930 Fausset, 34.


Frances Thynne Seymoud, Lady Hertford is another woman to whom Anne Finch sought to pour our her private anguish. Finch includes a touching remembrance of Lady Hertford's father, whose kind partiality Finch says his daughter follows, but then Finch goes on to tell her young friend that her poetry is her way of getting through "sleepless nights" and "days with care o'ercast." The poem bares witness to the depth of sadness from which Finch continued to write much of her poetry, a sadness which lends depth and bite to the lightest of her efforts. See Prithee Friend that Hedge behold" and Joy from a zealous pen Ardelia sends, two further poems copied out from manuscripts which include other members of the Frome/Longleat and Hertford circles.


My feeling is that this poem accompanied a small selection of poems intended just for Lady Hertford and was written at least a year after Anne Finch sent to Frances the first opening gambit. The presentation poem at the head of a probably private manuscript volume of poems by Anne Finch. The book has never surfaced, but a number of the poems found (or sent to Birch) and those in MS Additional 4457 and the later manuscripts (Harleian 7326 and MS Additional 28101) may represent either the poems or the types of poems now lost. See Texts.
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