Poems; Three poems by Women in Devon


Poems written by Women in Devon

To the Ladies, Mary Lady Chudleigh
My Friend, Mary Maria Colling
The Moon and the Yew Tree, Sylvia Plath

Wife and servant are the same,
But only differ in the name:
For when that fatal knot is tied,
Which nothing, nothing can divide:
When she the word obey has said,
And man by law supreme has made,
Then all that’s kind is laid aside,
And nothing left but state and pride:
Fierce as an Eastern prince he grows,
And all his innate rigour shows:
Then but to look, to laugh, or speak,
Will the nuptial contract break.
Like mutes she signs alone must make,
And never any freedom take:
But still be governed by a nod,
And fear her husband as a God:
Him still must serve, him still obey,
And nothing act, and nothing say,
But what her haughty lord thinks fit,
Who with the power, has all the wit.
Then shun, oh! shun that wretched state,
And all the fawning flatt’rers hate:
Value your selves, and men despise,
You must be proud if you'll be wise.

Old Archway to Place at Ashton, Mary Lady Chudleigh's home

Mary Maria Colling
My Friend
My friend, beware! don't lean thereon;
A rotten stick's no stay;
It will not break, if left alone;
But, if you lean, it may.

And while I speak, a thought doth strike
My mind, which seems to say,
How much a rotten stick is like
The friendships of the day.

Be cautious how you trust a friend,
For friendship's weak at best;
If all were true who do pretend,
How would the world be blest.

For many look like friends indeed:
All's well, while left alone;
But when you come their help to need,
Behold, their friendship's gone!

There's a sure way to shun this ill –
On no one to depend;
To all the world maintain good will:
But make yourself your friend.

Tavistock home of Mary Maria Colling

Sylvia Plath
The Moon and the Yew Tree

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place.
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky --
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up, it has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness -
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars
Inside the church, the saints will all be blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness - blackness and silence.
Looking over North Tawton from Bourchier's Hill


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