The pendulum of poetry swings back and forth through time. Today we go back to the late 18th century. But more than that, I said a few posts ago that I needed to find more female poets.
The poet today is Jane Cave Winscom who was born in 1754 and who published an anthology entitled “Poems on Various Subjects, Entertaining, Elegiac, and Religious”. She is also known for her poetry on pain. She suffered from what is now diagnosed as migraines and as an attempt to cure these she indulged in the then popular past-time of sea-bathing, for which Teignmouth was becoming a popular resort. This poem describes one such sea-bathing experience in Teignmouth.
AUTHOR’S BATHING AT TEIGNMOUTH, FOR THE HEAD-ACHE
Whilst on the beach I stood, my courage fainted,
And busy thought a thousand horrors painted!
Stranger to each, and each to me was strange,
With none a kind ‘Good-morrow’ could exchange;
With pensive mind, whilst tears my cheeks bedewed,
Fierce Boreas, and a nymph immerged I viewed;
Langour and pain her timid looks express,
As by the women carried in to dress.
‘Ah, me!’, I cried, ‘to plunge into the main
Should I presume, this weak afflicted brain
Will grow deranged, and I shall die with pain!’
But some kind fair, impressed with sympathy,
Consoled my grief, and bade my sorrows flee;
Of whom, to practise what themselves had taught,
One plunged into the sea, with courage fraught;
Near thrice twice-told she dipped quite undismayed,
And then ascends to dress, nor asks for aid.
I chid my fears — my cowardice was nipped,
And next below the wave my head was dipped:
A strange sensation — in a second o’er,
And I quite braced, much happier than before;
When I bathe next, I’ll have two dippings more.
O Neptune! should thy waves propitious prove,
And once this grievous malady remove,
Which long has baffled each physician’s art,
Moved by the impulse of a grateful heart,
I’ll chant thy virtues — sue the tuneful Nine,
And mighty Jove, to lend his aid divine
To fill me with devout poetic fire,
While I to Neptune tune the grateful lyre!
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