Anne Kingsmill Finch

The Poor Man's Lamb

Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (née Kingsmill), was an English poet and courtier. Finch's works often express a desire for respect as a female poet, lamenting her difficult position as a woman in the literary establishment and the court, while writing of "political ideology, religious orientati…






NOW spent the alter'd King, in am'rous Cares,
The Hours of sacred Hymns and solemn Pray'rs:
In vain the Alter waits his slow returns,
Where unattended Incense faintly burns:
In vain the whisp'ring Priests their Fears express,
And of the Change a thousand Causes guess.
Heedless of all their Censures He retires,
And in his Palace feeds his secret Fires;
Impatient, till from Rabbah Tydings tell,
That near those Walls the poor Uriah fell,
Led to the Onset by a Chosen Few,
Who at the treacherous Signal, soon withdrew;
Nor to his Rescue e'er return'd again,
Till by fierce Ammon's Sword they saw the Victim slain.
'Tis pass'd, 'tis done! the holy Marriage-Knot,
Too strong to be unty'd, at last is cut.
And now to Bathsheba the King declares,
That with his Heart, the Kingdom too is hers;
That Israel's Throne, and longing Monarch's Arms
Are to be fill'd but with her widow'd Charms.
Nor must the Days of formal Tears exceed,
To cross the Living, and abuse the Dead.
This she denies; and signs of Grief are worn;
But mourns no more than may her Face adorn,
Give to those Eyes, which Love and Empire fir'd,
A melting Softness more to be desir'd;
Till the fixt Time, tho' hard to be endur'd,
Was pass'd, and a sad Consort's Name procur'd:
When, with the Pomp that suits a Prince's Thought,
By Passion sway'd, and glorious Woman taught,
A Queen she's made, than Michal seated higher,
Whilst light unusual Airs prophane the hallow'd Lyre.

 Where art thou Nathan? where's that Spirit now,
Giv'n to brave Vice, tho' on a Prince's Brow?
In what low Cave, or on what Desert Coast,
Now Virtue wants it, is thy Presence lost?

 But lo! he comes, the Rev'rend Bard appears,
Defil'd with Dust his awful silver Hairs,
And his rough Garment, wet with falling Tears.
The King this mark'd, and conscious wou'd have fled,
The healing Balm which for his Wounds was shed:
Till the more wary Priest the Serpents Art,
Join'd to the Dove-like Temper of his Heart,
And thus retards the Prince just ready now to part.

Hear me, the Cause betwixt two Neighbors hear,
Thou, who for Justice dost the Sceptre bear:
Help the Opprest, nor let me weep alone
For him, that calls for Succour from the Throne.
Good Princes for Protection are Ador'd,
And Greater by the Shield, than by the Sword.
This clears the Doubt, and now no more he fears
The Cause his Own, and therefore stays and hears:
When thus the Prophet: –
  –In a flow'ry Plain
A King-like Man does in full Plenty reign;
Casts round his Eyes, in vain, to reach the Bound,
Which Jordan's Flood sets to his fertile Ground:
Countless his Flocks, whilst Lebanon contains
A Herd as large, kept by his numerous Swains,
That fill with morning Bellowings the cool Air,
And to the Cedar's shade at scorching Noon repair.
Near to this Wood a lowly Cottage stands,
Built by the humble Owner's painful Hands;
Fenc'd by a Stubble-roof, from Rain and Heat,
Secur'd without, within all Plain and Neat.
A Field of small Extent surrounds the Place,
In which One single Ewe did sport and graze:
This his whole Stock, till in full time there came,
To bless his utmost Hopes, a snowy Lamb;
Which, lest the Season yet too Cold might prove,
And Northern Blasts annoy it from the Grove,
Or tow'ring Fowl on the weak Prey might sieze,
(For with his Store his Fears must too increase)
He brings it Home, and lays it by his Side,
At once his Wealth, his Pleasure and his Pride;
Still bars the Door, by Labour call'd away,
And, when returning at the Close of Day,
With One small Mess himself, and that sustains,
And half his Dish it shares, and half his slender Gains.
When to the great Man's table now there comes
A Lord as great, follow'd by hungry Grooms:

For these must be provided sundry Meats,
The best for Some, for Others coarser Cates.
One Servant, diligent above the rest
To help his Master to contrive the Feast,
Extols the Lamb was nourished with such Care,
So fed, so lodg'd, it must be Princely Fare;
And having this, my Lord his own may spare.
In haste he sends, led by no Law, but Will,
Not to entreat, or purchase, but to Kill.
The Messenger's arriv'd: the harmless Spoil,
Unus'd to fly, runs Bleating to the Toil:
Whilst for the Innocent the Owner fear'd,
And, sure wou'd move, cou'd Poverty be heard.
Oh spare (he cries) the Product of my Cares,
My Stock's Encrease, the Blessing on my Pray'rs;
My growing Hope, and Treasure of my Life!
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