A Song - 1786
Helen Maria Williams
6 stanzas, 24 lines
genre - poetry
my rating - 4 out of 5 stars
Yesterday I was reading a fanfic of Austen's Emma called Jane and the Bow Street Runner by Sarah Waldock. In the book it mentions a poetess named ..."Helen Maria Williams, a lady of great literary energy and a penchant for making up fancifully romantic names for her heroines..." I wondered if the poetess was a real person. She sure is.
In 1786 Williams published a book titled Poems. In this book is a short piece called "A Song". The poem is short and to the point: would you rather have your lover with you and be poor or him wandering the world trying to become rich so you both can live an easy life?
Considering the poem was written over 227 years ago, it was remarkably easy to read. You can find Williams' entire book on www.gutenberg.org or for free from Amazon. I found the poem itself on www.poetryfoundation.org.
About the author -
A controversial figure in her own time, the young Williams was favorably portrayed in a 1787 poem by William Wordsworth.
In the context of the Revolution Controversy, she came down on the side of the revolutionaries in her 1790 novel Julia and defied convention by traveling alone to revolutionary France. She briefly visited England in 1792, but only to persuade her mother and her sisters to join her in France just as the country was moving toward the more violent phases of its revolution.
After the Bourbon Restoration, she became a naturalized French citizen in 1818; nonetheless, in 1819 she moved to Amsterdam to live with a nephew she had helped raise. However, she was unhappy in Amsterdam and soon returned to Paris until her death in 1827.