Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"To my Excellent Lucasia, on our Friendship" by Katherine Philips

Alana, a friend of mine, is writing an essay on Katherine Philips, "seventeenth-century lady poet," who may or may not have been a lesbian. She wrote a lot of love poems to women, though wether or not she was gay with them is not known. In any case, if you want an academic and intelligent look at the subject, it's Alana you want to talk to. But here's a poem by Philips I found online.

To my Excellent Lucasia, on our Friendship

I did not live until this time
Crowned my felicity,
When I could say without a crime,
I am not thine, but thee.

This carcase breathed and walked and slept,
So that the world believed
There was a soul the motions kept,
But they were all deceived.

For as a watch by art is wound
To motion, such was mine;
But never had Orinda found
A soul till she found thine;

Which now inspires, cures, and supplies,
And guides my darkened breast;
For thou art all that I can prize,
My joy, my life, my rest.

No bridegroom's nor crown-conqueror's mirth
To mine compared can be;
They have but pieces of this earth,
I've all the world in thee.

Then let our flames still light and shine,
And no false fear control,
As innocent as our design,
Immortal as our soul.

(Katherine Philips, from Elizabethan and Seventeenth-Century Lyrics, Matthew W. Black, Ed. J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1938. 375-376.)

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