Sunday, July 15, 2007


The Woman-power (1842)

Woman-Saviour now we muster
To await thy advent sure,
In the cluster of thy lustre,
Come and leave the earth no more?
Then before thy gentle look,
Swords shall quail and warriors fail,
And the spear, a shepherd’s crook,
Shall adorn the daisied dale.
Woman-power! Incarnate love!
Human Goddess come and be,
If the Bridegroom’s tears can move,
Bride unto Humanity.
Thou alone of all can save us
Let us be what thou would have us!

John Goodwyn Barmby (1820-1881) in his younger years was involved in several short-lived attempts at communal living, first in France and then in England, particularly after his marriage to Catherine (1817?-1853). They founded and ran the Communist Church [Commune-ist] in London (1841-1849), but met with derision from their contemporaries.

Goodwyn Barmby wrote to a friend in the early 1840s:

But the Free Woman who shall give the womanly tone to the entire globe is not yet manifested.

Catherine Watkins Barmby in her pioneering feminist pamphlet, The demand for the emancipation of women (1843), insisted that

We have the priest, we therefore demand the priestess, the
Woman teacher of the word, the woman apostle of God’s law!

For further info see Barbara Taylor, Eve and the New Jerusalem: socialism and feminism in the nineteenth century (London: Virago Press, 1983). Catherine Barmby is regarded these days as an early feminist, and you'll see why when you read her 1843 pamphlet, ‘The demand for the emancipation of woman, politically and socially’, a fascimile of which is in Taylor's book. Its also on the web:
Barbara Taylor's recent article on Catherine Barmby in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is good too.
I have a section on Goodwyn Barmby and William Blake in my book, The Wisdom Tradition.

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