Friday, May 15, 2009

Adieu, Vain World

I'm always interested to learn what Americans were reading in the 17th and 18th centuries. This Stevens Shop stone in Newport displays a verse from Lady Mary Chudleigh's 1703 collection of poems, Poems on Several Occasions:

Adieu, Vain World, Vain World Adieu
I come, Ye Blest, I come to you.
This stone is dated 1728, indicating that someone in Newport was reading feminist poetry that had been published (relatively) recently. Not just reading it — embracing it enthusiastically enough to put it on a gravestone.

I wonder who decided on this verse. Was it from a poem beloved by Abigail Clarke? By her family? Did John Stevens enjoy Lady Mary Chudleigh's work? I'll be on the lookout for other examples of her work in the Newport Common Burying Ground.

Abigail Clarke, Newport, RI, 1728

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