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To a Lady, Who Valu'd Herself on Speaking Her Mind in a Blunt Manner, Which She Call'd Being Sincere
Mary Barber


Well you Sincerity display,
A virtue wond’rous rare!
Nor value, tho’ the world should say,
You’re rude, so you’re sincere.
To be sincere, then, give me leave;
And I will frankly own,
Since you but this one virtue have,
’Twere better you had none.

From Poems by Eminent Ladies (Baldwin, 1755).
This poem is now in the public domain. 


Mary Barber (1685 - 1755) was an Irish housewife and poet who had the good fortune to be discovered by Jonathan Swift. Swift's endorsement and support brought Mary respect and opportunities she would likely never have otherwise known, given her lack of social standing. Her poems ranged from messages to her son to satirical comment on society, the latter usually delivered in a voice other than her own. Many of Mary?s poems are presented from a male perspective or a child?s perspective, a technique that allowed her to speak her mind on sensitive subjects without stepping over the very rigid lines of protocol established for a female of common birth during that time period. While Swift always referred to Mary in glowing terms, calling her a "poetic genius," most consider Mary a poet of modest talent, but her biting wit is definitely entertaining.



Post New Comment:
Wonderful - this is a poem I shall quote with glee and pleasure.
Posted 03/04/2015 01:00 AM
Yes, even if her chestnuts may not penetrate the surface, she shows an entertaining wit. And she must be given brevity points. It's hard to over-rate brevity.
Posted 03/03/2015 11:27 PM

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