The Preacher thus, to Man, his speech adrest
Title: The last chapter of Eclesiastes Paraphras'd Inscribed to Mrs Catherine Fleming.
Primary Texts: MS's: Wellesley, 59-65; Harleian 7316, 71-81.
Secondary Ed: 1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints Wellesley text, 91-6; McGovern & Hinnant, 16-22.
Source: Ecclesiastes, Chapter 12, but after opening 57 lines completely original.
Comment: While the poem responds to the peculiar scepticism or dark fideism of Prior's poem with lines of pictorial grandeur, its most attractive or interesting passages are those Anne Finch writes for herself and Catherine Fleming about the gifts of song which "Daughters of the Soul" are given and how they should use them (Anne as a poet and Catherine as a singer and musician). Harmony is called a "Maternal Art": there are lovely verses about a lark. The poem represents another return to earliest meditative Orinda mode. There are numerous felicitous passages of natural description and reflection. The verses of this period may be called the nostalgic twilight of Anne's poetry of praise and devotion.
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