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Happy birthday, Jane Austen!

In celebration of Jane Austen's birthday (she'd have been 233 today), and what with it being Teaser Tuesday, I thought I'd post one of my Jane poems. The Jane project is a biography of Jane Austen in verse using period forms. It is written in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter), and attributed to Jane's father, the Rev. George Austen. It's based on an actual letter from Mr. Austen to his step-brother's wife, Susannah Walter. The "Cassandra" in the poem is Jane's older sister, who was nearly three when Jane was born.

A Letter from Rev. Austen to his Sister-in-Law
17 December 1775

My dear Susannah, let me share our news:
The sixteenth of December – yesterday –
as evening fell upon the rectory,
with little notice, Mrs. Austen bore
a Daughter, which has made our household glad.
We'd thought the newest babe would come last month; –
in old age, how our reckoning has failed!
Cassandra has a toy, a confidante
to keep her company 'mongst all our boys.
The baby is quite healthy and good-sized.
I christened her at home soon after birth.
She is to be called Jenny, I believe.
I'm glad to say your sister is pure well.
And now I'm looking forward to some sport –
a ploughing contest for a rump of beef,
if only Nature will cooperate.

      Yrs affectionately,
      George Austen

© Kelly R. Fineman 2008

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the sneak peek! Lovely.

Dec. 17th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
Thanks, Jules!
Dec. 16th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
What fun, Kelly. I don't think I fully understood your Jane project until I read your explanation above. Quite a challenge, I'm sure althought I'm certain you're up to it.

I hope you'll post more sometime.
Dec. 17th, 2008 12:59 am (UTC)
The poems are quite a mix: sonnets (Shakespearian and otherwise), Spenserian stanza, rhymed couplets, hymn metre, blank verse and more. One of the Shakespearian sonnets will be posted at Kid Mag Writers.com during the month of January, 2009.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 17th, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
It cracks me up that it was "with little notice" when Mrs. Austen was close to a month overdue. But so it was.
Dec. 17th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
I like the feeling of "with little notice" that pervades, while we feel so full of expectation. Lovely.
Dec. 17th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
I am glad you enjoyed it!
Dec. 17th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)
Jenny? Did he have it wrong or they ended up changing it? Or maybe Jane was short for Jenny???

I love it! I want to
Dec. 17th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
Jenny was, in fact, a pet name for Jane. She was called Jenny by the family when very young. The next poem sets that to rights, but of course, it's not here now. ;)
Dec. 17th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC)
I especially like these two lines: "Cassandra has a toy, a confidante /
to keep her company 'mongst all our boys". There's something really warm and evocative about them.
Dec. 17th, 2008 05:43 am (UTC)

Dec. 17th, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)
Oh, mercy, Kelly. How do you do what you do?
Can you just go ahead and turn this into a book already?
For real. I want to read the whole dang thing...
Dec. 17th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
I am working on it, as you know. I've got about 75 poems written so far, and at least that many to go. I'm hoping to finish the writing next year. (All of the poems require research, and some require quite a LOT of research, so it's not exactly a speedy process.)
Dec. 17th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
TadMack says: :D
Oh, hurray! It's lovely! Ditto what Liz said!
Dec. 17th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
Re: TadMack says: :D
Aww . . . thanks, TadMack. I keep plugging away at it. Right now, while I'm in gnomes mode, I spend time revising the poems I've written, just to keep in touch with Jane. She never lets the gnomes run her off for long.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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