Figurative Language In To Her Father With Some Verses

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KILLIGREW, ANNE (1660-1685) Born the daughter of Dr. Henry Killigrew, Master of the Savoy and a prebendary of Westminster, Anne Killegrew would mature during the restoration of Charles II. Her father, an accomplished dramatist, served as chaplain for the duke of York, his position allowing Killigrew to mature in an atmosphere where her art was encouraged. Killigrew served as maid of honor to Mary Modena, the duchess of York, and enjoyed a broad education, although not at the level of her male counterparts. That education remained responsible for what some critics judged the masculine tone of her poetry. However, for a person of status, Killigrew did not leave behind much information on her early years. Letters written from her father to her uncle William were later used to glean some information by the antiquarian Anthony Wood for his monumental work, Athenae Oxoniensis. The letters are still with Wood's manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Dr. Killigrew's letters reveal an obvious love for Anne, and a strong feeling she remained worthy of the biography that Wood wanted to write. He began a letter dated November 4, 1691, "You have pitched upon a subject in my daughter far worthier to be registered to posterity than to me her father."

According to the scholar Marilyn L. Williamson, Killigrew enjoyed the same publishing privileges as males of her era, as a result of her social status. She chose to model her approach after that of Katherine Philips, nicknamed "The Matchless Orinda," a cele brated woman poet and playwright who met an early death of smallpox, as would Killigrew. More comfortable than Philips with her role as a poet, Killigrew stated her hope that art would give her immortality when she wrote in Poems by Mrs. Anne Killigrew (1686), "When I am Dead, few Friends attend my Hearse, / And for a Monument, I leave my verse." She still had concerns about public reaction to her work, as expressed in "Upon the Saying That My Verses Were Made by Another." In that poem she acknowledged her debt to Philips, writing that she "owed not her glory to a beauteous face; / It was her radiant soul that shone within." Adopting the rhetorical stance of the late 17th century, she engaged in extreme modesty in writing "To My Lord Colrane, In Answer to His Com-

PLEMENTAL VERSES SENT TO ME UNDER THE NAME OF Cleanor," probably anticipating criticism from those who still did not feel women should be writing poetry. Her modest demeanor protected her from those who would accuse her of engaging in masculine pursuits.

Killigrew's work achieved high praise when published after her death at age 25, including that contained in the famous ode "To the Pious Memory of [ . . . ] Mrs. Anne Killigrew" (1686), appended to the collection by John Dryden. She is probably best remembered because of Dryden's ode. His praise would provoke as much later critical comment as did Kil-legrew's slight collection of works, which her father published in a slim 100-page posthumous volume. Critics question Dryden's lavish words, in part because,


despite his praise, he also characterized Killigrew's poetry as neither artful nor skillful. However, he quickly softened that characterization by adding that she did not need art, as nature supplied her treasures:

Art she had none, yet wanted none;

For nature did that want supply,

So rich in treasures of her own,

She might our boasted stores defy:

Such noble vigour did her verse adorn,

That it seem'd borrow'd where 'twas only born.

Some characterize Dryden's excessive approach as traditional for his era, which engaged in, according to David Vieth, as quoted by the Restoration literature expert Ann Messenger, "extremes-without-a-mean." Interestingly, Dryden connected Killigrew to Philips in that ode, as Killigrew herself had in her own verse.

Feminist critics reclaimed Killigrew's small body of works in the 1970s as part of their emphasis on the importance of subtext in writing by early women writers. However, Killigrew seems to have worried little about burying her true meaning beneath the literal and immediately evident meaning of her words. While she engaged in the common apology expected of women who wrote and published in her age and assumed a humble stance, real or feigned, regarding her work's quality, she dealt with strongly autobiographical concerns in an honest manner. But as Messenger explains, one must adopt caution when attempting to identify autobiographical concerns in Augustan poetry. Allusions may simply fulfill the demands of the era's shared rhetorical stance by poets, "the power of genre to control meaning," and most especially, "that a poet is a teacher, a legislator, a public rather than a private voice." The two poems discussed in this Companion remain widely anthologized; Killigrew's complete works are available through the university of Pennsylvania-sponsored Web site A Celebration of Women Writers.

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