My historical novels Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife, Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter, colonial New England, travels, and whatever else seizes my fancy...

Friday, October 12, 2012

An Early Quaker "Found Poem"

Quaker women could speak in meeting!
David Teague has kindly assented to let me repeat his recent blog about a poem written by Margaret Fell.  The feelings expressed by Ms. Fell reflect the Quaker belief that women were worthy vessels for God's word.  This countered the Puritan and Anglican conviction that women should remain silent in church.

Herodias Long never heard this poem, but I believe it would have matched her personal beliefs.  And now, here is David's blog post from:

If George Fox was the father of Quakerism, Margaret Fell (1614-1702), was its mother. In 1666, she published Women's Speaking Justified, the earliest known defense of women's ministry actually written by a woman.

While Margaret's writing style is a bit rambling for modern tastes, and some of her arguments are more clever than profound, some of her language approaches the lyrical. I have always found Margaret's observation that women loved Jesus because he was kind to them, and so they kept faith with him even after he was buried, to be quite moving.


Those that speak against
the Spirit of the Lord
speaking in a woman,
simply by reason of her sex,
or because she is a woman,
not regarding
the Seed
and Spirit
and Power
that speaks in her,
such speak against
Christ and his Church. . . .

God the Father
made no such difference
in the first Creation –  
nor ever since –
between the male
and the female,
but always,
out of his mercy
and lovingkindness,
had regard unto the weak.
So also his Son,
Christ Jesus,
confirms the same thing. . . .
that woman  
that came unto Jesus
with an alabaster box
of very
and poured it
on his head
as he sat at meat—
this woman knew more
of the secret power
and wisdom
of God
than his disciples did. . . .
owned the love and grace
that appeared in women
and did not despise it:
and he received as much love,
and tender dealing
from women
as he did from any others,
both in his lifetime,
and also
after they had exercised their cruelty upon him. . . .
Mark this,
ye despisers
of the weakness of women:
if these women
who had received mercy
and grace
and forgiveness of sins
and virtue
and healing from him –  
if their hearts
had not been so united
and knit unto him
in love
that they could not depart
(as the men did)
but sat watching,
and waiting,
and weeping around the Sepulchre
until the time of his Resurrection,
and so were ready
to carry his Message,
how should his disciples have known
(who were not there)?

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