kellyrfineman (kellyrfineman) wrote,

Poor She-Spye: an original poem

This month, my poetry sisters and I are working using what's called the Aphra Behn form. It is a form used by the female author and poet, Aphra Behn, back in the 1600s. I like to think of it as a mini-sonnet. It uses 9 lines of iambic tetrameter (4 poetic feet per line) plus one of iambic pentameter (5 poetic feet), for a total of 10 lines. And its rhyme scheme is ABBACDDCEE.

The one I wrote is a sort of mini-biography of Aphra Behn herself, who actually spied for England back in the day. She spent a bit of time in debtor's prison after King Charles II disavowed her and refused to reimburse her for her passage back to England. She wrote poems, books, and plays, and was what we would call a porto-feminist, in that she advocated for women's rights and women's sexual freedom.

"Poor She-Spye"

"Astrea"*, or the widow Behn,
was hired by King Charles II to spy
On William Scot, who meant to try
To overthrow the Crown (again).
She sailed to Flanders, found Will Scot,
Reported Dutch plans to attack
England's prize fleet, then traveled back.
Her warnings were dismissed as rot
Until the Dutch formed a blockade,
But it was by her pen her fame was made.

*Astrea was one of Behn's code-names.

She later wrote that she was "forced to write for Bread and not ashamed to owne it." And Virginia Woolfe wrote of her in A Room of One's Own: “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”


To get to the rest of today's Poetry Friday posts, please visit my poetry sister, Tricia, over at The Miss Rumpius Effect by clicking the box below:

Site Meter
Tags: behn, original poems, poetic forms, poetry friday, poetry seven

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded