Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673)
Cavendish’s poem rings a great truth for every aspiring writer. Most wish to receive praise for their work – “I writ so fast, I thought if I lived long, / A pyramid of fame to build thereon.” Yes, this is what most writers want and that is to be remembered and appreciated for their work in some way. But sadly, there’s a strong chance they will be forgotten as time goes on.
“Besides the world hath such a weight / Of useless books, as it is over fraught.” These lines are especially powerful since it reveals one of the many obstacles a writer must face. Which is that there are many authors in the world, but only a few will remain relevant past their time.
Cavendish is describing having thoughts of doubt in this poem. But in reality she was really a confident person. She had to be, since she was heavily mocked by critics and other writers during her time.
By the end of the poem her confidence is brought back, “Take pity, and my drooping spirits raise, / Wipe off my tears with handkerchiefs of praise.” Cavendish is able to push away her doubt and continue to write.
Since she had such a large output of work, it seems the fears described in the poem didn’t hold her back too much.
Unfortunately though, Cavendish isn’t very well known in modern times. But she was complimented by Virginia Woolf in the 1920s.
But her poem isn’t just one of personal fears, it’s a theme that is universal. Not just for writers, but anyone who creates. There’s always the fear that what they’re doing isn’t good enough.
However, it isn’t all gloomy. Cavendish kept on writing despite all the ridicule she received. And that’s very inspiring.