kingship as she mentions Caesar and Alexander, the speaker declaring,
I scorn to weep for worlds, may I but reign And empire o'er my self obtain, In Caesar's throne I'd not sit down, Nor would I stoop for Alexander's crown.
Astell's imagery of a person sitting and stooping suggests that rather than lowering herself by proclaiming victory over others, she would prefer to raise herself to higher moral ground by gaining self-control.
The third stanza allows the speaker to focus solely on herself, although claiming to reject public focus, asking that she may remain obscure "and never known," not "pointed at about the town," not having her name repeated by "Short-winded fame," only "that the next age may censure it." She remains demure in rejecting the attention that accompanies a false, shortlived fame, referencing the fickle nature of humankind, which may later reject what it today celebrates. Astell then references her own occupation as her speaker declares,
If I write sense no matter what they say, Whether they call it dull or pay A reverence such as Virgil claims, Their breath's infectious, I have higher aims.
She implies that public opinion does not represent the true worth of one's written words. Astell, of course, does not seriously believe that her writing could be on the level of that by Virgil but rather refers to his status as the dominant voice of Latin literature to suggest irony in the fact that his value is found in the mere breath of men. She uses the word infectious to mean that the common man speaks of immoral, or infected, matters. When she mentions that she has "higher aims," she shocks readers by claiming her own goal to be more valuable than the reverence in which her contemporaries held Virgil.
Astell concludes her poem in her fourth verse by labeling those men who "bait at honor, praise, / A wreath of laurel or of bays" as "mean-spirited." In these lines bait means "stop," and the wreath extends the previous classical references, as victors of competitions in ancient Greece won crowns of laurel, of which bay is one type. Her next line echoes that imagery, "But oh a crown of glory ne'er will die!" as she skillfully moves from a classical tradition into a religious one and returns to the theme of immortality. The speaker references the title as she states, "This I'm ambitious of, no pains will spare / To have a higher mansion there," referencing the biblical statement of John 14:2, "In my Father's house are many mansions." She therefore echoes a promise, calling upon the highest of all authorities to validate her poem.
Astell concludes by emphasizing one of her favorite themes, the natural equality of the sexes, writing, "There all are kings," and makes a final request, balancing the repeated "there" with "here": "here let me be, / Great O my God, great in humility." Astell concludes with a paradox, informing readers that humility signals a type of greatness with which broader society is not generally impressed. She succeeds in shaming those "vile" and "mean-spirited" men who claim women cannot commune with God because of lack of a soul, as all the while those men separate themselves from God through a desire for empty earthly glory.
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