Wednesday, November 15, 2023

"A Communication Which the Author Had to London, Before She Made Her Will" by Isabella Whitney

A Communication Which the Author Had to London, 
Before She Made Her Will

The time is come, I must depart
    from thee, ah famous city;
I never yet to rue my smart,
    did find that thou had’st pity.
Wherefore small cause there is, that I
    should grieve from thee to go;
But many women foolishly,
    like me, and other moe,
Do such a fixèd fancy set,
    on those which least deserve,
That long it is ere wit we get
    away from them to swerve.
But time with pity oft will tell
    to those that will her try,
Whether it best be more to mell,
    or utterly defy.
And now hath time me put in mind
    of thy great cruelness,
That never once a help would find,
    to ease me in distress.
Thou never yet would’st credit give
    to board me for a year;
Nor with apparel me relieve,
    except thou payèd were.
No, no, thou never did’st me good,
    nor ever wilt, I know.
Yet am I in no angry mood,
    but will, or ere I go,
In perfect love and charity,
    my testament here write,
And leave to thee such treasury,
    as I in it recite.
Now stand aside and give me leave
    to write my latest will;
And see that none you do deceive
    of that I leave them till.

Source of the text – The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Fifth edition, edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005, pages 146-147.

TJB: Greedy unreal city. This address to London, styled as a breakup poem to a toxic lover, wrenches its word-order to achieve a sing-song rhythm.

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