I have been reading from a new series, Bluestocking Feminism, and especially from the work (edited by Rhoda Zuk) of Hester Mulso Chapone, a lesser-known and very fine writer. She wrote essays, letters, and poems, and was a friend of both Samuel Johnson and Samuel Richardson.
Reading along, I collected some of her prose sentences colloquial, contradictory, sensible, confident, opinionated. To make my poem, I wanted to include these sentences with the quatrain which Dr. Johnson had chosen to illustrate the Quatrain entry in the Dictionary. Its the first stanza of Hesters Ode to Stella, full of logic, poise, music, and good humor. So I forced the sentences into (rather ragged) quatrains. I allowed these two elements to sit together in the poem, hoping to bring to life a version of Hesters voice on the page. And I loved the sound of the names Mulso and Pufendorf.
Quatrains by Hester Mulso (1728-1784)
The old Yahoos were a thousand times
good and consequently happy.
to believe their children goods and
to subscribe to all that Pufendorf
Nothing will induce me to design
of all things intimacy with those
a noble and generous kind of anger.
to illustrate the entry for Quatrain
Say, Stella, what is love, whose fatal powr
Bio: Caroline Knoxs collection A Beaker: New and Selected Poems appeared from Verse Press in May 2002. Her previous books are The House Party and To Newfoundland (Georgia 1984, 1989) and Sleepers Wake (Timken 1994). Her work has appeared in The American Scholar, The American Voice, Harvard, The Massachusetts Review, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere.
Knox has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Yale/Mellon Visiting Faculty Program, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, The Fund for Poetry, the Senior Fellowship Program of the Fine Arts Work Center, and from Poetry magazine (the Bess Hokin Prize). Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 1988 and 1994.