Poem introduction

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was well known as a wit, as an ambitious, diplomatic traveller, and as a keen observer of Turkish life. She was also an early advocate of inoculation against smallpox. She often makes use of a mock-heroic code, indeed she corresponded for a while with Alexander Pope. In her poem 'The Resolve' the ambiguities of being approached by a man are sternly pursued. Written on a window soon after her marriage, 1713.

The Resolve

Whilst thirst of praise and vain desire of fame, 
In every age is every woman's aim; 
With courtship pleas'd, of silly toasters proud, 
Fond of a train, and happy in a crowd; 
On each proud fop bestowing some kind glance, 
Each conquest owing to some loose advance; 
While vain coquets affect to be pursued, 
And think they're virtuous, if not grossly lewd: 
Let this great maxim be my virtue's guide; 
In part she is to blame that has been try'd – 
He comes too near, that comes to be deny'd. 

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Recordings

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu Downloads read by Denise Riley

1The Resolve

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2Saturday: The Small-Pox

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3The Lover

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4A Receipt to cure the Vapours

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Books by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu