Thursday Verseday with Arlinda
While poetry is often described as a means of writing in which flowery language and imagery are used to convey deep romantic emotions, poems have also been known to contain the ability of transmitting meaningful messages of all sorts, even arguments between individuals. In the case of Anne Ingram. Vicountess Irwin in her poem “An Epistle to Mr. Pope, Occasioned by his Characters of Women,” she uses her poem to copy Alexander Pope’s technique in “Epistle 2. To a Lady” and turn his poem against him. Not only was Irwin’s poem entertaining, it was a witty expression of her disagreement with Pope’s poem.
In Alexander Pope’s poem, the speaker goes on to describe the various hidden qualities of women, which make her false and untrustworthy. In the poem, the speaker states,
But grant, in public men sometimes are shown,
A woman’s seen in private life alone:
Our bolder talents in full light displayed;
Your virtues open fairest in the shade.
Bred to disguise, in public ‘tis you hide;
There, none distinguish ‘twixt your shame or pride,
Weakness or delicacy; all so nice,
That each may seem a virtue, or a vice.
In these lines, the speaker attempts to convey the duplicity and public falsehood of women. Alexander Pope used poetry to convey his very biased opinion that females present a fabricated identity, a “disguise” in public; the poem even goes so far as to imply the virtues of women are actually vices. After Pope’s insulting poem directed at women, it should come as no surprise that a woman decided to direct a poem at Alexander Pope.
Anne Ingram. Vicountess Irwin’s poem “An Epistle to Mr. Pope, Occasioned by his Characters of Women,” uses the same techniques and form that Pope used in his poem in order to confront his opinions of the characters of women as depicted in “Epistle 2. To a Lady.” In Irwin’s poem, the speaker states,
No more can we expect our modern wives
Heroes should breed, who lead such useless lives.
Would you, you who know the arcana of the soul,
The secret springs which move and guide the whole,
Would you, who can instruct as well as please,
Bestow some moment of your darling ease,
To rescue women from this Gothic state,
New passions raise, their minds anew create,
Then for the Spartan virtue we might hope;
For who stands unconvinced by generous Pope?
Irwin used Pope’s techniques to her advantage along with her own sarcasm to discredit Alexander Pope’s poem. Irwin was witty and innovative. She used poetry as a personal outlet to become an advocate for women.
We often think of poems in terms of romance, but poetry, along with all forms of writing, serve so many different purposes. Every part of a poem speaks to the reader from the structure to the words used throughout the poem. Irwin’s poem imitated the structure of Pope’s and by doing so the poem instantly captures a connection to the poem in which it is referring. We all have the capability to create poems, stories, literature to make a statement, correct an injustice, or bring our views to life. We all have a voice, it is time we use it to make a difference, to let our perspectives become known, and to make the changes we want to see in the world.