Laetitia Pilkington: Irish Woman Poet

Laetitia Pilkington (1712-50), who was born in Dublin was a poet, playwright and, perhaps most famously, a memoirist. A member of Swift’s circle, she knew both Constantia Grierson and Mary Barber. She was married and divorced and spent time in London’s Marshalsea debtors’ prison. The poem A Song is typical of her light, witty style.

A Song


Lying is an occupation
Used by all who mean to rise;
Politicians owe their station
But to well-concerted lies.

These to lovers give assistance
To ensnare the fair one’s heart;
And the virgin’s best resistance
Yields to this commanding art.

Study this superior science,
Would you rise in church or state;
Bid to truth a bold defiance,
‘Tis the practice of the great.


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