THE MATCHLESS ORINDA
Katherrine Philips, “The Matchless Orinda”, was born on January 1, 1631 . She was the precocious child of a respectable Presbyterian London merchant. Early in life she became a strong Royalist, and by the time she was seventeen she married a worthy Welsh gentleman, James Philips of the Cardigan Priory.
Her earliest poem was an address to Henry Vaughan, the Silurist, on the appearance of his “Olor Iscanus”. About the time she seems to have assumed her pen name of Orinda .
Orinda is the earliest English sentimental writer, and she was known to be a woman of many tears. She was a worthy woman and a good wife, despite her overstrained sentimentality, to whom Jeremy Taylor dedicated his “Measures and Offices of Friendship”. She was well- known and well-received in the noblest of circles.
While visiting Dublin , she translated Corneille’s “Pompey” and in her last year she translated the greater part of “Horace”. Her poems were secretly printed in London , in 16632, but an authoritative edition was issued in 1667, after her death.
On a visit to London in 1664, Orinda contracted smallpox and died on June 22, 1664 . The matchless Orinda ’s poetry has long since faded into forgetfulness, despite the chorus of contemporary praise from Cowley and every poet of note. Keats found her poems in 1817 while writing “Endymion”, and in a letter to Reynolds speaks of them as showing “a most delicate fancy of the Fletcher kind.” Her daughter, Joan, was a talented writer.