Global Utilities

Mary Wroth's Poetry: An Electronic Edition

Hermaphrodite Poems (side-by-side)

Image Transcription Modernisation Modernisation Notes
Denny
Hermophradite in ſhow, in deed a monſter
    as by thy words and works all men may conſter
Thy wrathfull ſpite conceiued an Idell book
    brought forth a foole wch like ye damme doth look
Wherein thou ſtrikes at some mans noble blood
    of kinne to thine if thine be counted good
whose vaine comparison for want of witt
    takes up ye oyſter shell to play wth it
Yet Common oyſters ſuch as thine gaype wide
    and take in pearles or worse {in} at euery tide
Both frind and foe to thee are euen alike
    Thy witt runs madd not caring who it ſtrike
These ſlanderous flying fames riſe from the pott
    for potted witts inflamed are raging hott
How eaſy wer't to pay thee wth thine owne
    returning that wch thou thy ſelf haſt throwne
And write a thouſand lies of thee at leaſt
    & by thy lines diſcribe a drunken beaſt
This were no more to thee then thou haſt done
    A Thrid but of thine owne wch thou haſt ſpunn
By wch thou plainly seest in thine owne glass
    How eaſy tis to bring a ly to paſs
Thus haſt thou made thy ſelf a lying wonder
    fooles and their Bables ſeldome part aſunder
worke o th' workes leaue idle bookes alone
    for wise & worthier women haue writt none

        To Pamphilia from the father
        in law of Seralius
Hermaphrodite in show, in deed a monster,
    As by thy words and works all men may conster
Thy wrathful spite conceived an idle book
    Brought forth a fool which like the dam doth look,
Wherein thou strikes at some man's noble blood,
    Of kin to thine, if thine be counted good,
Whose vain comparison for want of wit
    Takes up the oyster shell to play with it.
Yet common oysters such as thine gape wide,
    And take in pearls or worse at every tide
Both friend and foe to thee are even alike,
    Thy wit runs mad, not caring who it strike.
These slanderous flying f[l]ames rise from the pot,
    For potted wits inflamed are raging hot.
How easy were't to pay thee with thine own,
    Returning that which thou thyself hast thrown,
And write a thousand lies of thee at least,
    And by thy lines describe a drunken beast.
This were no more to thee than thou hast done,
    A thread but of thine own which thou hast spun,
By which thou plainly seest in thine own glass
    How easy 'tis to bring a lie to pass.
Thus hast thou made thyself a lying wonder;
    Fools and their baubles seldom part asunder.
Work o th' works, leave idle books alone,
    For wise and worthier women have writ none.

        To Pamphilia from the father-
        in-law of Seralius
Text from Nottingham Cliufton MSS, CL LM 85/3.
Other MS texts:
British Library Add. MS 22603
Huntington Library MS HM 198 (1)
Yale University Beinecke Library Osborn Manuscript b.197

The main variant from Clifton in all three manuscripts is the final couplet which reads (in each),
worke lady worke, lett idle bookes alone
For wisest women sure haue written none

A significant pointer to a common source for BL, Huntington and Beineicke Osborne is a shared error in line 17 caused by eyeskip: these manuscripts all read 'And write a thousand lynes of the at least/And by thy lynes describe a drunken beast', where Clifton has 'And write a thousand lies of thee at least/And by thy lines discribe a drunken beast'.

Collation also indicates some slight variations in the Beinecke manuscript from readings in British Library and Huntington, such as 'slanderous flames' rather than 'slanderous flying flames' in line 13, but these are relatively insubstantial and are more likely to be caused by Alston's slips or alterations in transcription than by a different source.

For further discussion of the manuscripts, Wroth's poem, and their circulation see my essay, 'Mary Wroth and Hermaphroditic Circulation', in Susan Wiseman, ed., Early Modern Women and the Poem (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012).
Wroth
Railing Rimes returned vpon the author
by mie Mary Wrothe

Hirmophradite in ſenſe in Art a monſter
    as by your ralling rimes ye world may Conſter
Your spitefull words againſt a painleſs booke
    ſhows {th}at an aſs muc{h} like ye Sire doth looke
Men truly noble fear no touch of Blood
    nor queſtion make of o{th}ers muc{h} more good
Can ſuc{h} Compariſons ſeme ye want of witt
    w{h}en oyſters {h}aue enflamd your blood wth it
But it appeares your guiltineſs gapt wide
    filld wth Dirty doubt your brainſ swolne tide
Bo{th} frind and foe in deed you uſe alike
    & yor madd witt in sherry aequall ſtrike
        T{h}eſe ſlaunderous flying flames raiſd from {th}e pott
        you know are falſe and raging makes you hott
        How eaſily now do you receaue yor owne
        turnd on your ſelf from w{h}ence ye squibb was {th}rowne
        w{h}en {th}eſe few lines not {th}ouſands writt at leaſt
        mainly {th}us proue your ſelf {th}e drunken beaſt
        T{h}is is far leſs to you {th}en you {h}aue donne
        a trid but of your owne all wouen but worſe spunn
        By wych you liuely ſee in your owne glaſe
        {h}ow {h}ard it is for you to ly and paſs
        T{h}us you {h}aue made your ſelf a lying wonder
        fooles and {th}eir paſtimes ſhould not part aſunder
        Take {th}is {th}en now lett railing Rimes alone
        for wiſe and wor{th}yer men {h}aue written none
Railing Rhymes returned upon the author by Mistress Mary Wroth

Hermaphrodite in sense, in art a monster,
    As by your railing rhymes the world may conster,*
Your spiteful words against a harmless book
    Shows that an ass much like the sire doth look.
Men truly noble fear no touch of blood,
    Nor question make of others much more good.
Can such comparisons seem the want of wit
    When oysters have enflamed your blood with it?
But it appears your guiltiness gaped wide
    And filled with dirty doubt your brain's swollen tide,
Both friend and foe in deed you use alike
    And your mad wit in sherry equal strike,
These slanderous flying flames raised from the pot
    You know are false, and raging makes you hot.
How easily now do you receive your own
    Turned on yourself from whence the squib was thrown,
When these few lines, not thousands, writ at least
    Mainly thus prove yourself the drunken beast.
This is far less to you than you have done,
    A thread but of your own, all woven but worse spun
By which you lively see in your own glass
    How hard it is for you to lie and pass.
Thus you have made yourself a lying wonder,
    fools and their pastimes should not part asunder.
Take this then, now let railing rhymes alone
    For wise and worthier men have written none.
Conster: construe

Images reproduced by the permission of the University of Nottingham (MSS Cl, LM 85/3).


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