Uploaded on Aug 14, 2011
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT AND FUSELI
Oh but is it not hard, Dear?
Mine are the nerves to quake at a mouse:
If a spider drops I shrink with fear:
I should die outright in a haunted house;
While for you---did the danger dared bring help---
From a lion's den I could steal his whelp,
With a serpent round me, stand stock-still,
Go sleep in a churchyard---so would will
Give me the power to dare and do
Valiantly---just for you!
Much amiss in the head, Dear,
I toil at a language, tax my brain
Attempting to draw---the scratches here!
I play, play, practise and all in vain:
But for you---if my triumph brought you pride,
I would grapple with Greek Plays till I died,
Paint a portrait of you---who can tell?
Work my fingers off for your "Pretty well:"
Language and painting and music too,
Easily done---for you!
Strong and fierce in the heart, Dear,
With---more than a will---what seems a power
To pounce on my prey, love outbroke here
In flame devouring and to devour.
Such love has laboured its best and worst
To win me a lover; yet, last as first,
Fixed a moment's fantasy, bitter or sweet:
Yet the strong fierce heart's love's labour's due
Utterly lost, was---you!
Some background on this poem.
Mary Wollstonecraft was a British writer who was the well known author of
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
Henry Fuseli was a British artist, writer who Wollstonecraft fell in love with.
Fuseli who was married contrived with his wife's assistance
to resist Wollstonecraft's wiles.
Consequently Mary moved to France where she met and had relations
with Gilbert Imlay who was an American officer during
the American Revolutionary War.
The affair resulting in a daughter was short-lived and he eventually left her.
She then met and married an English writer, political philosopher
named William Godwin who fathered her daughter,
Mary Shelley the author of Frankenstein.
She died shortly after giving birth to her second daughter
leaving behind many unfinished manuscripts.
She was only 38 years old.
It would seem to me that love was not her good fortune to keep.
-Robert J. Rei
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