Sunday, 6 February 2011

Katherine Phillips ( Fowler) : 1631-1664. Wiston Vault/ Hey it's Sunday.

Katherine Philips father was a merchant and presbyterian of London, but his daughter soon transferred her zeal unfortunately to the cause of King and Church. At sixteen she married a Welshman, and their home here in Cardigan became a literary centre. It was here that, in the mode of the time, she was accorded the fancy name of Orinda, son to be expanded into 'the Matchlless Orinda'.
After her husbands death she lived in Dublin, where she translated Corniell's ' Pompee', her version being played with much success at the Dublin Smock Alley Theatre. In March 1664 she returned to London and there, in the June of the same year, she died of small-pox.
She was however an ardent 'apostle' of friendship between women. Indeed the 'Lucasia' mentioned so lovingly in 'Wiston Vault' was one of her intimates - Anne Owen, afterwards Viscountess Dungannon. The famous Jeremy Taylor dedicated to her a book which has friendship as its theme.
'Wiston' is a sea-coast village in Pembrokeshire. The church 'restored' in the 1860s. still exists.

Wiston Vault

And why the vault and Tomb? Alike we must
Put of distinction, and put on our dust;
Nor can the staliest fabric help to save
Fromthe corruptions of a commons grave,
Nor for the Resurresction more prepare,
Than if the dust were scattered into air.
What then? Th'ambition's just, say some, that we
May thus perpetuate our memory.
Ah, false, vain task of art! ah, poor weak man
Whose monument does more than merit can!
Who by his friends' best care and love's abused,
And in his very epitaph accused;
For did they not suspect hisname would fall,
There would not need an epitaph at all.
But after death, too, I would be alive,
And shall, if my Lucasia do survive.
I quit these pomps of death, and am content,
Having her heart to be my monument:
Though ne'er stone to me, 'twill stone for me to prove,
By the peculiar miracles of love.
There I'll inscription have which no tomb gives:

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