Whilst H--ley with more near approaches blest


An Epistle to Mr Prior on the New Edition of His Work's.

Primary Text:

MS Harleian 7316, 81v-86v*.

Secondary Ed:

1740 Prior, II, xxii-xxiv.


This is a speculative attribution. As with Finch's unacknowledged poems, in print this follows a poem by her which is barely acknowledged ("To Mr. Prior, from a LADY Unknown" in the 1740 Prior). It also occurs in a the series of 14 poems in the MS Harleian 7316 (see Finch's ballad to Catherine Fleming ("To Coleshill Seat of Noble Pen); there it is the fourth in a group of four written by the same scribe, the first three of which are Catherine Fleming's request that Finch paraphrase Ecclestiastes, Finch's epistle to her, and the "The Preacher thus, to Man, his speech adrest". T his poem seems to me very like Finch's in verse texture, thought (the insistence she is isolated, alone), feeling words, typical rhymes, images to many of her poems (e.g., the descriptions of Orpheus). The poet repeats the same reasons for admiring the young Prior in her juvenilia to him (Dr. Johnson expresses the modern amazement at the idea that Prior's poems are ultra-erotic; apparently Finch's generation found them s o).


The poem works up to a paean to Prior's Solomon, which is here regarded as Prior's highest effort.in poetry. This too fits Finch's outlook: she admired Prior as a secular poet; she was herself in the fideist camp without knowing it.
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