Monday, June 12, 2023

The Poems of Mary Robinson 6: Lines to Maria, MY Beloved Daughter (1793) - deselected & a note about notes

This post: Pages: Robert Sheppard: Selected Poems (History or Sleep) - the de-selected poems and the next Pages: Robert Sheppard: How I selected History or Sleep: Selected Poems talk about the problems of putting together my Selected Poems, History or Sleep, still available from Shearsman. There are different problems in selecting the work of another poet, and I talk about some of the problems I had with the poems of Paul Evans, whose selected, The Door at Taldir is also published by Shearsman: Pages: Paul Evans' Selected Poems and Lee Harwood's Collected (

Now I am selecting poems by Mary Robinson, and I’ve been sharing some thoughts as well as very rough drafts of texts for the book's intro in various posts beginning here, where you will find links to all the other posts: Pages: Selecting for a Selected: The Poems of Mary Robinson 1 ( (Also for Shearsman!) Do have a look after reading this one. 

One poem has been removed from my list already. This I’d hoped to keep, partly because another selected Robinson doesn’t have this poem in it. I have read all of Robinson’s poems in her 1806 three volume Poems, only to select many of the poems also in the Judith Pascoe selected (see my bibliography), although I have distinct plans for the long political poem ‘The Progress of Liberty’, which is usually represented by the excerpts Mary Robinson published as separate poems. I also include two late elegiac poems at the end of the book, writing in illness and close to her death, which I've not seen elsewhere. 

Here’s the poem, lines to Robinson’s daughter (who remained loyal to her mother, and is partly responsible for collecting Robinson's work, ultimately, for us).  I thought it rather affective, but I think the theme of parenthood is covered more movingly in her ‘Lamentation for Marie Antoinette’ and in her poem on the birth of Coleridge’s son (Derwent, by the way). I don’t want the poem to completely disappear, so here it is. Its absence frees up space for more of ‘The Progress of Liberty’, which can only be a good thing, in terms of my appreciation of Robinson, and for the originality of my selection, which is the focus of this post.   

 Lines to Maria, my Beloved Daughter

Written on her Birth-Day, Oct. 18, 1793


To paint the lust’rous streaks of morn,

Along the pale horizon borne,

When from AURORA’S opening eye

Effulgent glory gilds the sky;

Or yet a softer theme to sing

Of purple evening’s humid wing;

To trace the crystal car of night

Along the plains of starry light,

Where the chaste Goddess bends her way,

Diffusing round a trembling ray; –

No more shall charm my pensive Muse,

With transient forms, or varying hues:

This hour my tenderer task shall be,

Sweet darling Maid, to sing of thee!


Attend my strain, and while I blend

The Guardian, Parent, Poet, Friend,

Believe, as each my verse shall prove,

A picture fraught with truth and love,

And every candid line impart

The feelings of a Mother’s heart!


Oh! form’d to soothe the wounds of Fate,

Dear solace of my mournful state!

Thou, only blessing Heav’n bestows

To shed meek Patience on my woes!

Know – that in life’s disast’rous scene,

Whate’er my chequer’d lot has been,

No hour was yet so dear to me

As that blest hour which gave me THEE!


From infant sweetness still I’ve trac’d

Thy mind, with ev’ry virtue grac’d;

Still have I mark’d Time’s ceaseless wing

Some new endearing treasure bring;

While Hope, soft-whisp’ring, bid me gaze

On bright’ning scenes of distant days’

When, more matur’d, these doating eyes

Should see the lovelier woman rise,

Adorn’d with all the modest grace

That beam’d about thy infant face;

Yet with a mind more passing fair

Than all that Nature pictur’d there!


With such a mind, so richly stor’d,

Still may’st thou live, admir’d, ador’d!

Through life enjoy the bliss divine

That waits on innocence like thine!

Still greet the morn with conscious smile,

With tranquil scenes the hours beguile;

And, when the busy day shall close,

Still find a couch of sweet repose!


For me, so long ordain’d to trace

O’er life’s dark wild a thorny space –

Still ev’ry sorrow doom’d to share,

Still shall my heart those sorrows bear,

Nor will I mourn at Fate’s decree,

If Heav’n, in pity, spares me THEE!


NOTE ABOUT NOTES: I've been writing the notes for the edition, and I won't detain anyone with details of this time-consuming and fiddly task, best done, I think, the way I did it, in a rush of activity. Now I've put the whole manuscript away for some weeks, perhaps for the summer. 

This editorial project came out of my own (mis)use of Robinson’s sonnets ‘Sappho and Phaon’ (the whole of it is in my selection) in my ‘English Strain’ project, which I explain here: Pages: My 'Tabitha and Thunderer' is published in Blackbox Manifold (, and here, where you will also find lots of images relating to her life: Pages: My Transpositions of Mary Robinson's sonnets 'Tabitha and Thunderer' are now complete (hub post) (


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