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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Poetry of Austen — guest post from Kai

Please welcome back to the blog, Kai from A Fiction State of Mind! You may remember her from last year's guest review of the Pride & Prejudice manga, which you can find here. 
This year, Kai is talking to us about her experience with something you rarely hear talked about -- Jane Austen's poetry!

There always seems to be more to always seems to be more to discover about Jane Austen, and this year for Austen in August, Jane's poetry found me. It was an interesting experience. Jane's poetry reads very much like her novels. They show the occupations of her time and little glimpses of her private life. The are humorous, and often are snippets of the experiences of her life.
The poems "When Stretched On One's Bed" and "I’ve A Pain In My Head" Reflect a lady in repose, be it from a headache or an escape to her bedroom for a much needed private moment.
*Note from Misty: I've included the text of these two poems below. =)

Initially there was some disappointment in my reading of these poems. I much enjoyed an audio version of some of them because the playfulness of the words shine through when read aloud.
The disappointment stemmed from the need for them to be EPIC! They aren’t. But there is beauty and moments of beautiful connection in some of them. Like the poem she writes in remembrance of a dear friend that died on her birthday or the poem "This Little Bag" and ode to a device that hold needed items like a pin but more so is a symbol of the holder and the identify of a friend. it was interesting to step into Jane's poetic world, but I will always love stepping into her novels instead.

When stretch'd on one's bed - by Jane Austen

When stretch'd on one's bed
With a fierce-throbbing head,
Which preculdes alike thought or repose,
How little one cares
For the grandest affairs
That may busy the world as it goes!

How little one feels
For the waltzes and reels
Of our Dance-loving friends at a Ball!
How slight one's concern
To conjecture or learn
What their flounces or hearts may befall.

How little one minds
If a company dines
On the best that the Season affords!
How short is one's muse
O'er the Sauces and Stews,
Or the Guests, be they Beggars or Lords.

How little the Bells,
Ring they Peels, toll they Knells,
Can attract our attention or Ears!
The Bride may be married,
The Corse may be carried
And touch nor our hopes nor our fears.

Our own bodily pains
Ev'ry faculty chains;
We can feel on no subject besides.
Tis in health and in ease
We the power must seize
For our friends and our souls to provide.

I'Ve A Pain In My Head - by Jane Austen

'I've a pain in my head'
Said the suffering Beckford;
To her Doctor so dread.
'Oh! what shall I take for't?'

Said this Doctor so dread
Whose name it was Newnham.
'For this pain in your head
Ah! What can you do Ma'am?'

Said Miss Beckford, 'Suppose
If you think there's no risk,
I take a good Dose
Of calomel brisk.'--

'What a praise worthy Notion.'
Replied Mr. Newnham.
'You shall have such a potion
And so will I too Ma'am.'

Click here to return to the Austen in August Main Page


  1. LOL! Those made me laugh with their whimsicality. Anticipation of something to equal her novels would definitely leave one disappointed. Thanks for sharing about these, Kai. I haven't thought about her poetry in a while.

  2. I have never read any of Jane's poems before. Thank you for sharing them.


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