Margaret Cavendish

Margaret Cavendish


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An eclectic collection of poetry by one of 17th century England's boldest, smartest, and independent women.

Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was a groundbreaking writer—a utopian visionary, a scientist, a science-fiction pioneer. She moved in philosophical circles that included Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes, and she produced startlingly modern poems unlike anything published in the seventeenth century or since, at once scientific and visionary, full of feminist passion and deep sympathy with the nonhuman world. In recent years, Cavendish has found many new admirers, and this selection of her verse by Michael Robbins is an ideal introduction to her singular poetic world.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681371580
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 04/16/2019
Series: NYRB Poets Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 4.40(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Margaret Cavendish (1623–1673) was the most prolific woman writer of the Restoration. Born in Essex into a wealthy but untitled family, in 1643 she became maid of honor to Queen Henrietta Maria. At the outbreak of the First English Civil War, Margaret accompanied the queen in her exile to France; in Paris she met William Cavendish, First Duke of Newcastle, and the two were married in 1645. While the couple lived on the Continent—in Paris, Rotterdam, and Antwerp—Margaret began writing poetry and philosophical essays, and on a visit back to England to petition for her husband’s estate, she published Poems, and Fancies (1651) and Philosophicall Fancies (1653). A fashionable eccentric, for the next two decades she wrote poems, stories, plays, romances, biographies, memoirs, natural philosophy, scientific treatises, and, with Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World (1666), one of the earliest works of science fiction. In 1667, she was the first woman invited to attend a meeting of the Royal Society of London. After her death, her husband published a collection of pieces that had been written in her praise, Letters and Poems in Honour of the Incomparable Princess, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle.

Michael Robbins is the author of two books of poetry and the essay collection Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Bookforum, The Nation, and several other publications. He is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Montclair State University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Note on the Text
Further reading
To All Noble and Worthy Ladies
To the Reader
The Poetress’s Hasty Resolution
The Poetress’s Petition
An Excuse for So Much Writ upon My Verses
Nature Calls a Council, Which Was Motion, Figure, Matter, and Life, to Advise About Making the World
A World Made by Atoms
The Four Principal Figured Atoms Make the Four Elements, as Square, Round, Long, and Sharp
Of Airy Atoms
Of Air
What Atoms Make a Palsy or Apoplexy
All Things Are Governed by Atoms
A War with Atoms
Atoms and Motion Fall Out
The Agreement of Some Kind of Motion with Some Kind of Atoms
Motion Directs While Atoms Dance
Of the Subtlety of Motion
Of Vacuum
If Infinite Worlds, Infinite Centers
The Infinites of Matter
The Motion of Thoughts
The Motion of the Blood
Of Stars
What Makes Echo
Of Rebounds
Of Light
Of Light and Sight
Of Many Worlds in This World
A World in an Earring
Several Worlds in Several Circles
The Circle of the Brain Cannot Be Squared
The Purchase of Poets, or a Dialogue betwixt the Poets, and Fame, and Homer’s Marriage
A Dialogue betwixt Man and Nature
A Dialogue betwixt the Body and the Mind
A Dialogue between an Oak and a Man Cutting Him Down
A Dialogue of Birds
A Dialogue between Melancholy and Mirth
A Dialogue betwixt Riches and Poverty
A Dialogue between a Bountiful Knight and a Castle Ruined in War
Of the Shortness of Man’s Life and His Foolish Ambition
A Moral Discourse betwixt Man and Beast
Of the Ant
Of Fishes
A Discourse of the Power of Devils
The Clasp
The Hunting of the Hare
The Hunting of the Stag
Of an Island
The Ruin of the Island
Of Poets and Their Theft
Nature’s Cook
Similizing the Brain to a Garden
Similizing Thoughts
Similizing Fancy to a Gnat
A Woman Dressed by Age
A Description of Shepherds and Shepherdesses
Her Descending Down
Witches of Lapland
An Elegy on My Brother, Killed in These Unhappy Wars

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