At the 2017 JASNA AGM in Huntington Beach, Gillian Dow gave the opening plenary lecture. In it, she discussed Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘Jane’s Marriage’, written c. 1922, in which Kipling accompanies Austen to paradise, sees her welcomed into an exclusively male canon of literature, and ‘rewarded’ with a husband.

Gillian felt that – in 2017 – a rewrite of this poem would be appropriate. We reproduce the below with apologies to Kipling, and thanks to Gillian’s sister, who helped write it. An essay based on Gillian’s talk will appear in Persuasions 39, the JASNA journal, in 2018.

‘Jane Austen Among the Women of Genius’
By Gillian and Pamela Dow

Jane went up to Paradise:
That was only fair.
Aphra Behn embraced her first
And led her up the stair.
Past Eliza Haywood
With Germaine de Staël;
Charlotte Lennox invited her
To rest from her travail.

Gottsched; Graffigny; Alorna;
Women writers from all nations;
Hailed her mighty influence;
And each of her creations.
Mary Wortley Montagu
Helped untie her bonnet,
Invited Jane to join her in
A restorative tonic.

In a heavenly drawing room
Supervised by Thalia,
Enjoying a perpetual Ball:
Elinor, Marianne, and Emma.
Catherine and Fanny
Smiled with merry eyes;
Captain Wentworth took Jane’s hand;
Mr Darcy looked surprised.

Jane looked down, with friendly patronage,
Saw Edgeworth, More and Charlotte Brontë.
Willed their quiet tenacity,
And inquiring conscience.
She prayed for Burney; Hemans; Radcliffe;
Mary Augusta Ward:
All the future earthly BlueStockings,
Their writings their reward.

Jane now lies in Winchester
Blessed be her shade.
Praise the Lord for making her,
And her for all she made.
While the stones of Winchester,
The sands of Huntington Beach, remain,
Glory, love, and honor
Unto the World’s Jane.

Photo credit: Jane in Cleveland @jasnaonc

With thanks to JASNA