Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jane Austen was a Poet...

Today I discovered Jane Austen wrote poetry. After browsing through half a dozen of her poems, it's clear to me this novelist loved to sharpen her poetic pen on victims who would recognize themselves in the satires.

If you're better acquainted with Austen than I have been, here's news for you: At long last, the Jane Austen Society of North America is appearing in a Vermont version. The first meeting of JASNA-VT is Sunday March 30, 2 to 4 p.m., in the Hauke Conference Center at Champlain College, 375 Maple Street, Burlington. Speaking will be Prof. Robyn Warhol-Down (Professor of English, UVM), on the topic: 'I quit such Odious Subjects': Austen's Narrative Refusals.

To attend, RSVP to bookseller and Austen devotee Deb Barnum, 802/864-0517, or to Kelly McDonald, -- and there are more planned events already (a dramatic reading; a talk on Turner's England; a birthday tea & English country dance).

Meanwhile, here's a taste of Jane's poetry:

Mock Panegyric on a Young Friend

In measured verse I'll now rehearse
The charms of lovely Anna:
And, first, her mind is unconfined
Like any vast savannah.

Ontario's lake may fitly speak
Her fancy's ample bound:
Its circuit may, on strict survey
Five hundred miles be found.

Her wit descends on foes and friends
Like famed Niagara's fall;
And travellers gaze in wild amaze,
And listen, one and all.

Her judgment sound, thick, black, profound,
Like transatlantic groves,
Dispenses aid, and friendly shade
To all that in it roves.

If thus her mind to be defined
America exhausts,
And all that's grand in that great land
In similes it costs --

Oh how can I her person try
To image and portray?
How paint the face, the form how trace,
In which those virtues lay?

Another world must be unfurled,
Another language known,
Ere tongue or sound can publish round
Her charms of flesh and bone.

Jane Austen

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