To a Young Lady, on Her Birthday, by Samuel Johnson

I’ve chosen this poem for the kick-off to national poetry month, because April 1st is also my daughter’s 13th birthday:
This tributary verse receive, my fair,
Warm with an ardent lover’s fondest prayer,
May this returning day for ever find
Thy form more lovely, more adorn’d thy mind;
All pains, all cares, may favouring heaven remove,
All but the sweet solicitudes of love!
May powerful nature join with grateful art,
To point each glance, and force it to the heart!
O then! when conquer’d crowds confess thy sway,
When even proud wealth and prouder wit obey,
My fair, be mindful of the mighty trust,
Alas! ’tis hard for beauty to be just.
Those sovereign charms with strictest care employ;
Nor give the generous pain, the worthless joy;
With his own form acquaint the forward fool,
Shown in the mimic glass of ridicule:
Teach mimic censure her own faults to find,
No more let coquettes to themselves be blind,
So shall Belinda’s charms improve mankind. 
p.s. Painting by Hogarth, The Graham Children. I have three daughters and one son, just like the Grahams, except my son is the youngest. The cat looks suspiciously like ours, as well. This is actually a very sad painting because the baby had died by the time Hogarth painted it. But I meant for it to be a happy image, and I’m certain Hogarth did, too, in his attempt to capture the joy of the moment.
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12 comments

  1. Yes, I think she indeed appreciates the sage advice of Dr. Samuel Johnson. She wants to learn to be more than just a pretty face with a coquettish smile–even though she is quite good at charming others w/ her charms.

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