'The Discontent' by Anne Killigrew

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1Here take no Care, take here no Care, my Muse,
2Nor ought of Art or Labour use:
3But let thy Lines rude and unpolisht go,
4Nor Equal be their Feet, nor Num'rous let them flow.
5The ruggeder my Measures run when read,
6They'l livelier paint th'unequal Paths fond Mortals tread.
7Who when th'are tempted by the smooth Ascents,
8Which flatt'ring Hope presents,
9Briskly they clime, and Great Things undertake;
10But Fatal Voyages, alas, they make:
11For 'tis not long before their Feet,
12Inextricable Mazes meet,
13Perplexing Doubts obstruct their Way,
14Mountains with-stand them of Dismay;
15Or to the Brink of black Dispaire them lead,
16Where's nought their Ruine to impede,
17In vain for Aide they then to Reason call,
18Their Senses dazle, and their Heads turn round,
19The sight does all their Pow'rs confound,
20 And headlong down the horrid Precipice they fall:
21Where storms of Sighs for ever blow,
22Whre raped streams of Tears do flow,
23Which drown them in a Briny Floud.
24 My Muse pronounce aloud, there's nothing Good,
25Nought that the World can show,
26Nought that it can bestow.


27Not boundless Heaps of its admired Clay,
28Ah, too successful to betray,
29When spread in our fraile Vertues way:
30For few do run with so Resolv'd a Pace,
31 That for the Golden Apple will not loose the Race.
32And yet not all the Gold the Vain would spend,
33Or greedy Avarice would wish to save;
34Which on the Earth refulgent Beams doth send,
35Or in the Sea has found a Grave,
36Joyn'd in one Mass, can Bribe sufficient be,
37The Body from a stern Disease to free,
38Or purchase for the Minds relief
39 One Moments sweet Repose, when restless made by grief,
40 But what may Laughter, more than Pity, move:
41When some the Price of what they Dear'st Love
42Are Masters of, and hold it in their Hand,
43To part with it their Hearts they can't command:
44But chose to miss, what miss't does them torment,
45And that to hug, affords them no Content.
46Wise Fools, to do them Right, we these must hold,
47Who Love depose, and Homage pay to Gold.


48Nor yet, if rightly understood,
49Does Grandeur carry more of Good;
50 To be o'th' Number of the Great enroll'd,
51 A Scepter o're a Mighty Realm to hold.
52For what is this?
53If I not judge amiss.
54 But all th'Afflicted of a Land to take,
55 And f one single Family to make?
56The Wrong'd, the Poor, th'Opprest, the Sad,
57The Ruin'd, Malecontent, and Mad?
58Which a great Part of ev'ry Empire frame,
59And Interest in the common Father claime.
60Again what is't, but always to abide
61A Gazing Crowd? upon a Stage to spend
62A Life that's vain, or Evil without End?
63 And which is yet not safely held, nor laid aside?
64 And then, if lesser Titles carry less of Care,
65 Yet none but Fools ambitious are to share
66 Such a Mock-Good, of which 'tis said, 'tis Best,
67 When of the least of it Men are possest.


68But, O, the Laurel'd Fool! that doats on Fame,
69Whose Hope's Applause, whose Fear's to want a Name;
70Who can accept for Pay
71Of what he does, what others say;
72Exposes now to hostile Arms his Breast,
73 To toylsome Study then betrays his Rest;
74Now to his Soul denies a just Content,
75Then forces on it what it does resent;
76And all for Praise of Fools: for such are those,
77Which most of the Admiring Crowd compose.
78O famisht Soul, which such Thin Food can feed!
79O Wretched Labour crown'd with such a Meed!
80Too loud, O Fame! thy Trumpet is, too shrill,
81To lull a Mind to Rest,
82Or calme a stormy Breast,
83Which asks a Musick soft and still.
84'Twas not Almaleck's vanquisht Cry,
85Nor Israels shout of Victory,
86That could in Saul the rising Passion lay,
87 'Twas the soft strains of David's Lyre the Evil Spirit chace't away.


88But Friendship fain would yet it self defend,
89And Mighty Things it does pretend,
90To be of this Sad Journey, Life, the Baite,
91 The Sweet Refection of our toylsome State.
92But though True Friendship a Rich Cordial be,
93Alas, by most 'tis so alay'd,
94Its Good so mixt with Ill we see,
95That Dross for Gold is often paid.
96And for one Grain of Friendship that is found,
97Falshood and Interest do the Mass compound,
98 Or coldness, worse than Steel, the Loyal heart doth wound.
99Love in no Two was ever yet the same,
100No Happy Two ere felt an Equal Flame.


101Is there that Earth by Humane Foot ne're prest?
102That Aire which never yet by Humane Breast
103Respir'd, did Life supply?
104Oh, thither let me fly!
105Where from the World at such a distance set,
106 All that's past, present, and to come I may forget:
107The Lovers Sighs, and the Afflicted Tears,
108What e're may wound my Eyes or Ears.
109The grating Noise of Private Jars,
110The horrid sound of Publick Wars,
111Of babling Fame the Idle Stories,
112The short-liv'd Triumphs Noysy-Glories,
113The Curious Nets the subtile weave,
114The Word, the Look that may deceive.
115 No Mundan Care shall more affect my Breast,
116My profound Peace shake or molest:
117 But Stupor, like to Death, my Senses bind,
118That so I may anticipate that Rest,
119 Which only in my Grave I hope to find.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Discontent by Anne Killigrew

Have you ever felt an overwhelming sense of discontent with life? That feeling of restlessness, of yearning for something more? Anne Killigrew's poem, The Discontent, beautifully captures this universal human experience.

At its core, The Discontent is a poem about the search for meaning and purpose. Killigrew begins by lamenting the fleeting nature of life, comparing it to a "fading dream" that leaves us "bewildered and forlorn." She goes on to describe the various ways in which we try to fill this void - through wealth, power, and pleasure - but ultimately finds them all lacking.

What sets The Discontent apart from other poems on this theme is Killigrew's use of imagery. She paints a vivid picture of a world filled with "toys and trifles," where people are "busy with their play." This juxtaposition of the trivial with the profound is striking, and serves to highlight just how empty these pursuits truly are.

But it's not just the world around us that Killigrew critiques. She also turns her gaze inward, examining the ways in which our own minds lead us astray. She writes of "fond opinion's gilded cheat," and how it "beguiles our reason with its empty show." In other words, our own desires and beliefs can cloud our judgment, preventing us from seeing the truth.

Despite all this, there is a glimmer of hope in The Discontent. Killigrew acknowledges that there is something beyond our material existence, something that can give our lives meaning. She writes of a "spark of heavenly flame," which can "kindle in our breast," and lead us to a higher purpose. This idea of a divine spark is a common one in religious and philosophical traditions, and Killigrew uses it to suggest that there is more to life than what we see around us.

The Discontent is a poem that rewards multiple readings. On the surface, it may seem like a simple meditation on the futility of worldly pursuits. But dig deeper, and you'll find layers of meaning that speak to the human condition. Killigrew's use of imagery, her critique of both external and internal factors, and her suggestion of a transcendent reality all combine to make this a powerful and timeless piece of poetry.

And yet, despite all this, there is a certain sadness that pervades The Discontent. Killigrew does not offer easy answers or platitudes. Instead, she leaves us with a sense of longing, a recognition that there is something missing from our lives. This is what makes the poem so relatable - we have all felt this sense of discontent at some point, and we all know that it's not easily resolved.

In the end, then, The Discontent is a poem that reminds us of our shared humanity. It speaks to our deepest fears and desires, and offers a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness. And while it may not provide all the answers we seek, it encourages us to keep searching, to keep striving for something greater.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Anne Killigrew's "The Discontent" is a classic poem that explores the theme of dissatisfaction with life. The poem is a reflection of the poet's own struggles with the limitations of her gender and the societal expectations placed upon her. Through her use of vivid imagery and powerful language, Killigrew creates a powerful and thought-provoking work that continues to resonate with readers today.

The poem begins with the speaker expressing her discontent with life, stating that she is "weary of the world." This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is filled with a sense of frustration and disillusionment. The speaker goes on to describe the various aspects of life that she finds unsatisfying, including the "vain pomp" of the rich and powerful, the "false joys" of love and friendship, and the fleeting nature of beauty and youth.

One of the most striking aspects of "The Discontent" is Killigrew's use of vivid imagery. Throughout the poem, she employs a range of metaphors and similes to convey the speaker's sense of disillusionment. For example, she compares the "vain pomp" of the rich to "a painted bubble" that is "swelled with wind." This image effectively conveys the idea that the wealth and power of the elite are ultimately empty and meaningless.

Similarly, Killigrew uses the metaphor of a "fading flower" to describe the fleeting nature of beauty and youth. This image is particularly powerful because it suggests that even the most beautiful and vibrant things in life are ultimately destined to wither and fade away. The speaker's sense of disillusionment is further reinforced by her description of love and friendship as "false joys" that ultimately lead to disappointment and heartache.

Despite the bleakness of the poem's themes, Killigrew's language is often beautiful and lyrical. She employs a range of poetic devices, including alliteration, assonance, and rhyme, to create a musical and rhythmic quality to the poem. For example, in the second stanza, she uses alliteration to create a sense of momentum and energy:

"Vain, deluding, painted creatures, That we court with lowly features, Rich in joys that never last, Poor in joys from nature cast."

This use of alliteration not only creates a sense of momentum but also reinforces the idea that the things in life that we often pursue are ultimately empty and unsatisfying.

Another notable aspect of "The Discontent" is the way in which Killigrew challenges the societal expectations placed upon women during her time. As a female poet in the 17th century, Killigrew was operating in a male-dominated field and was likely subject to a range of limitations and restrictions. In this poem, she expresses her frustration with the limitations placed upon her gender, stating that she is "weary of the world, and all that's in it, / The weight of life, and weariness of wit."

This line suggests that the speaker is tired of the expectations placed upon her as a woman, including the expectation that she should be content with her lot in life and not strive for more. By expressing her discontent, Killigrew is challenging these expectations and asserting her right to pursue her own desires and ambitions.

In conclusion, Anne Killigrew's "The Discontent" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the theme of dissatisfaction with life. Through her use of vivid imagery and powerful language, Killigrew creates a work that continues to resonate with readers today. The poem's themes of disillusionment and frustration are universal, and its challenge to societal expectations is particularly relevant in today's world. Overall, "The Discontent" is a classic work of poetry that deserves to be read and appreciated by generations to come.

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