All flie th'unhappy, and I all wou'd flie


The Retirement.

Primary Text:

No MS; 1701 Gilden, 288-93.*
All flie th'unhappy, and I all wou'd flie
Knew I but where to go, or how to die.
A Tomb of Sorrow is a dreadful Sight,
No wonder that a moving Grave shou'd fright
Abandon'd, helpless, and alone I came
From nothing to this World, from Ease to Pain
My infant Sighs did the small Fabric shake,
As Winds Pent in when from the Earth they Break
Which Mortal Men for dismal Omens take
'Twas then alas! by certain Instinct taught,
As if inspir'd by some prophetick Thought,
My Parents fled that World, to which this Wretch they brought
They fear'd to see what I was Born to prove,
They fled from Youth, from Beauty, and from love,
But 'twas to meet again in Groves above.
An Assignation justly tim'd, and kept,
The last undaunted went, and boldly leapt.
That Gulph of Death her dearer half had past,
Desire of Liberty her Hopes encreas'd;
Love lent her Wings and added to her Hast
But all to Slow, too late she was releas'd
Too late for me, for had she sooner fled,
She with her own, had burst my twisted Thred;
That Thred, which since the Sisters Wove so Strong
As if they meant to prove their Force was young.
As in the World's bright dawn, when sprightly Life
Was Proof against Diseases, Age, and Grief
Then Men cou'd live in Spight of every dart
That Death cou'd fling, nor fear'd a broken Heart.
But I, who had observ'd their Force Decay,
And that each Chance cou'd clear to Death the Way;
From Grief expected long that mournful Ease,
And learn'd to smile at every Pains Encrease.
But now alas! those Fatal Hopes decay,
In spite of Sorrow I must longer Stay;
My Pilgrimage is hard and long the Way.
Too long the Way thro' which I still must grieve,
Ah! for what Crime; am I condemn'd to live?
"Else thro' th'Abyss I'd Steer my airy Race,
"And new the Secret of the boundless Space.
"Survey those glittering Particles of Light,
"That with dissembled Day supply the Night
"Thence to the Source of Day direct my wondrous Flight.
"The Hidden Cause of things unknown descrie
"The Strange Vicissitude of Earth, of Air, and Sky.
"Why some so prone to change, to some again
"Such firm, and Stedfast, constant Rules Remain
"I would go on but that the towring flight,
Makes me grow giddy, with the dreadufl night,
"Yes, I wou'd forward, and my Voice I'd raise,
"Join with the Sphere's in my Creator's Praise
"In Songs Eternal, and no mortal Lays.
"As 'tis his Will, but who that will can see
"Involv'd n such dark Clouds of Mistery.
We know not what his will commands us here,
Less can we tell our future duty there
Yes, here I'm lost, for none of all the dead
Return to tell what a Soul is when fled.
Of what we there will do, we hear may boast,
But there for ought we know All thought is lost
To live, or Die why should I not submit?
Or why delay My death, or hasten it?
Since all is guided by his boundless Will,
For sure the Soul his Wisdom made, his Pow'r continues Still.


I am convinced this is by Anne Finch. It is one of a series of nine poems in this volume of Gilden's connected to Anne which includes four known to be by her. It strongly recalls the eight "anonymous" poems in 1696 Tate. Finch talks openly of religious doubt, and one finds for the first time her assertion (repeated throughout her poems) it was wholly unexpected, is somehow strange that someone like her retires or "is to solitude betray'd." The autobiography closely follows what we know of Anne's (first her father, then her mother, then her step-father died). As in Finch's poem to her sister, "Some Reflections in a dialogue ... ", 1690-2 above), there an unexplained reference to an upheaval Anne's birth caused.
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