Jane Austen ~ A Poem

Found in my research travels for the 2008 Persuasions “Jane Austen Bibliography”: a poem by X. J. Kennedy on Jane Austen. Mr. Kennedy is a “poet, translator, anthologist, editor, and author of children’s literature and textbooks on English literature and poetry.”

Jane Austen’s Donkey Cart – Chawton

 Jane Austen Drives to Alton in Her Donkey Trap

Disappointing waters at Cheltenham Spa
Hadn’t erased dark patches from her skin,
Nor could she still walk miles untiringly.
Well, then. Out back she harnessed Polly Sue
And set off into kindled warmth that May
Squandered on the dregs of day.

“Composition seems to me impossible,” she said,
“With a head full of doses of rhubarb
And joints of mutton”—
Nevertheless, on the rough road back to Chawton,
She closed a stubborn sentence in her mind
As one might fasten a button.

Looming, the near-horizon wore a hue
Softer than garnet’s, fullness she might carry,
The first shy sycamore leaves
Uncertainly poking through
Like the affections of a girl
Whose mother hadn’t decreed a man to marry.

With faithful clop her donkey drew the load
Of oolong, sugar, pink embroidery thread,
Her quiet drive portending one last story.
Today, our rented compact squeezes left,
Scrapes weeds and fenceposts while around the road’s
Blind bend there thunderstorms a ten-ton lorry.



Kennedy, X. J. “Jane Austen Drives to Alton in Her Donkey Trap, and: Temps Perdu, and: The Odors of New Jersey.” Hopkins Review 1.3 (2008): 413-15.

[Donkey Cart image from Pinterest]

Further reading:

The X. J. and Dorothy M. Kennedy website

X. J. Kennedy at Wikipedia [contains a full list of all this works]

Mr. Kennedy is scheduled tonight, Tuesday, July 17, 6:30 p.m, for a reading at the Center for the Arts, Cafe at the Somerville Armory, 119 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA.  Two other poets to be announced; open mike.  Admission $4.

c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

On the Block ~ Byron’s Hair

Sothebys has just published the results of today’s auction [December 17, 2008, Sale L08411, London] of English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations, with a final take of 901,913 GBP!   Literature by the likes of Shakespeare, Byron, Milton, Keats, Dickens, and Beatrix Potter seems to be alive and well (but alas! no Austen today!)  Here is the result for a lock of Byron’s hair.  I have posted a few other results at my Bygone Books Blog; but see the above link for all the results.

Lot 35.  A Lock of Byron’s hair, dark brown with some white strands: 

…cut from his head after his death at Missolonghi, coiled and tied with a pink ribbon, with an accompanying wrapper inscribed in the hand of Byron’s intimate friend John Cam Hobhouse (”a lock of hair cut from the head of Lord Byron after his death by Dr Bruno”), and with a later envelope recording that the lock was later presented “by Miss Leigh to Miss Marianne Gidely”   3,000 GBPbyrons-hair1