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Selected Poems

Aphra Behn

Edited by Malcolm Hicks

Cover Picture of Selected Poems
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ISBN: 978 1 857547 01 6
Categories: 17th Century, LGBTQ+, Women
Imprint: FyfieldBooks
Published: April 2003
216 x 137 x 10 mm
102 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback
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  • Impertinence, my sexes shame,
        (Which has so long my life pursued,)
    You with such modesty reclaim
        As all the woman has subdued,
    To so divine a power what must I owe,
    That renders me so like the perfect - you?
        (from 'To Alexis, On his saying, I loved a Man that talked much')

    Aphra Behn (1640-1689) is best known for her novel Oroonoko. Her plays have been revived, in print and on the stage, in modern times, but much of her best work, as she herself knew, is to be found in her poetry. The versatile form and content of her translation, satires and songs, and above all her radical exploration of relationships between the sexes, set her apart from her contemporaries. Behn wittily negotiates the complexities and ironies of women's role in a society in which honour is a commodity. Candid and subtle, her poetry speaks with a distinctive, vigorous intelligence and satirical edge. This generous selection includes an introduction that sets her work in context, notes on the text and suggestions for further reading.
    Table of Contents


    Suggestions for Further Reading

    The Editions of Behn's Poetry


    The Golden Age

    On a Juniper-Tree, cut down to make Busks

    On the Death of Mr. Grinhil, the Famous Painter

    A Ballad on Mr. J.H. to Amoret

    Song. Love Armed

    To Mr. Creech on his Excellent Translation of Lucretius

    To Mrs. W. On her Excellent Verses

    The Return

    On a Copy of Verses made in a Dream

    To my Lady Morland at Tunbridge

    The Disappointment

    On a Locket of Hair Wove in a True-Loves Knot

    A letter to a Brother of the Pen in Tribulation

    The Reflection: A Song

    Song (Ah! What can mean that eager joy)

    To Lysander, who make some Verses on a Discourse of Loves Fire

    A Dialogue for an Entertainment at Court

    To Lysander, on some Verses he writ

    To the Honourable Edward Howard

    To Lysander at the Music-Meeting

    An Ode to Love

    A Paraphrase on Ovid's Epistle of Oenone to Paris

    MISCELLANY (1685)

    Song (Cease, cease, Aminta, to complain)

    A Song (While, Iris, I at distance gaze)

    Selinda and Cloris

    A Pindaric to Mr. P.

    A Pastoral to Mr. Stafford

    Ovid to Julia. A Letter


    To Damon

    To Alexis in Answer to his Poem against Fruition

    To Alexis, on his saying, I loved a Man that talked much

    On Desire. A Pindaric

    On the first discovery of falseness in Amintas

    To the fair Clarinda, who made Love to me


    Verses designed by Mrs. A. Behn to be sent to a fair lady

    MUSES MERCURY (1707)

    On a Pin that hurt Amintas' Eye

    For Damon, being asked a Reason for his Love


    A Letter to the Earl of Kildare

    To Mrs. Price....

    A Poem Humbly Dedicated to the Great Pattern of Piety and Virtue Catherine Queen Dowager (1685)

    To Henry Higden, Esq., on his Translations of the Tenth Satire

    On Juvenal (1687)

    On the Death of E. Waller, Esq. (1688)

    A Congratulatory Poem to her Sacred Majesty Queen Mary, upon

    Her Arrival in England (1689)

    A Pindaric Poem to the Reverend Doctor Burnet (1689)


    Aphra Behn
    Aphra Behn was born in 1640 in Canterbury, and seems to have been adopted into the family of Sir Thomas Culpeper, where her mother served as a wet-nurse. As a young woman she travelled to Surinam with the Culpeper family, an experience that gave her the material for her novel ... read more
    Malcolm Hicks
    ... read more
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