- What were some major circumstances of Anne Finch's life which may have influenced her poetry?
- When was this poem published? Why may its appearance have been delayed for almost two centuries after her death?
- What is the poem's meter and stanza form? Are these appropriate for their subject?
- Why do you think Anne Finch chose this poem as an "introduction" to her collection? What attitudes toward women's wriitng trouble her? What views on women's roles does she attribute to her potential critics?
- What is meant by "the dull manage of a servile house"? Which social class of women engaged in the "manage of a servile house"?
- Do you think most of her seventeenth century contemporaries would have approved of her views? How does her diction reinforce her point?
- To make her case, what precedents does the author appeal to in the second stanza? Why does she choose the women who sang in praise of David as her precedent?
- Does this involve a certain amount of selection from the Biblical record? Is this example at all convincing, and if so, why?
- Why do you think Finch chooses the prophet Deborah as her final instance of a respected Biblical woman?
- What is meant by the line, "How are we fall'n, fall'n by mistaken rules"? Do its metrics emphasize its content?
- To what does the poet attitribute men's precedence in civil socidty and the arts? Is this a view shared by many twenty-first century feminists?
- What does the author claim will be her final response to these problems? What will be her "dark . . . shades"?
- In your view, does she seem fully satified with this conclusion? Can you imagine a different ending?
1. Describe this poem's metrics. Are there significant variations to the pattern? What is meant by "of the weaker kind"? Who are the "they" of "their passions"?
2. What does the speaker claim about herself? Is she generous to her fellow women?
3. What does she state are her personal goals?
4. Which school of philosophy advocated an appeal to reason and neutrality about life's circumstances? What events in Anne Finch's life might have prompted her to these reflections?
5. How does the form of the poem follow the sequence of the speaker's thoughts?
6. How would you describe the poem's tone? Do you find it surprising that Finch was subject to depression?