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Else vain the studied sounds of mimic art,
Tickle the ear, but come not near the heart.
Vain every phrase in curious order set,
On each side leaning on the (stop-gap) epithet.
Vain the quick rhyme still tinkling in the close,
While pure description shines in measur'd prose.
Thou bear'st aloof, and look'st with high dis-
Upon the dull mechanic train;
Whose nervous strains flag on in languid tone,
Lifeless and lumpish as the bagpipe's drowsy drone.
No longer now thy altars blaze,
No poet offers up his lays;
Inspir'd with energy divine,
To worship at thy sacred shrine,
Since Taste with absolute domain,
Extending wide her leaden reign,
Kills with her melancholy shade
The blooming scions of fair Fancy's tree;
Which erst full wantonly have stray'd
In many a wreath of richest poesy.
For when the oak denies her stay,
The creeping ivy winds her humble way;
No more she twists her branches round,
But drags her feeble stem along the barren ground. ·
Where then shall exil'd Genius go?
Since only those the laurel claim,
And boast them of the poet's name,
Whose sober rhymes in even tenor flow;
Who prey on words, and all their flowerets cull, Coldly correct, and regularly dull.
* By taste, is here meant the modern affectation of it.
Why sleep the sons of Genius now?
Why, Wartons, rests the lyre unstrung?
And thou,* bless'd bard! around whose sacred brow
Great Pindar's delegated wreath is hung,
Arise, and snatch the majesty of song
From Dulness' servile tribe, and Art's unhallow'd throng.
TO MEMORY, 1748.
O MEMORY! celestial maid!
Who glean'st the flowerets cropp'd by Time, And, suffering not a leaf to fade,
Preserv'st the blossoms of our prime; Bring, bring those moments to my mind When life was new and Lesbia kind.
And bring that garland to my sight
With which my favour'd crook she bound;
And bring that wreath of roses bright
Which then my festive temples crown'd;
And to my raptur'd ear convey
The gentle things she deign'd to say.
And sketch with care the Muses' bower,
Where Isis rolls her silver tide,
Nor yet omit one reed or flower
That shines on Cherwell's verdant side, If so thou may'st those hours prolong, When polish'd Lycon join'd my song.
The song it 'vails not to recite
But, sure, to soothe our youthful dreams,
Those banks and streams appear'd more bright
Than other banks, than other streams;
Or, by thy softening pencil shown,
Assume they beauties not their own?
And paint that sweetly-vacant scene
When, all beneath the poplar bough,
My spirits light, my soul serene,
I breath'd in verse one cordial vow,
That nothing should my soul inspire
But friendship warm and love entire.
Dull to the sense of new delight,
On thee the drooping Muse attends,
As some fond lover, robb'd of sight,
On thy expressive power depends,
Nor would exchange thy glowing lines
To live the lord of all that shines.
But let me chase those vows away
Which at Ambition's shrine I made;
Nor ever let thy skill display
Those anxious moments, ill repaid:
Oh! from my breast that season rase,
And bring my childhood in its place.
Bring me the bells, the rattle bring,
And bring the hobby I bestrode,
When, pleas'd, in many a sportive ring
Around the room I jovial rode;
Ev'n let me bid my lyre adieu,
And bring the whistle that I blew.
Then will I muse, and pensive say,
'Why did not these enjoyments last?
How sweetly wasted I the day,
While innocence allow'd to waste!
Ambition's toils alike are vain,
But, ah! for pleasure yield us pain.'
O THOU, who glad'st the pensive soul,
More than Aurora's smile the swain forlorn,
Left all night long to mourn
Where desolation frowns, and tempests howl;
And shrieks of wo, as intermits the storm,
Far o'er the monstrous wilderness resound,
And 'cross the gloom darts many a shapeless form,
And many a fire-eyed visage glares around,
O come, and be once more my guest:
Come, for thou oft thy suppliant's vow hast heard,
And oft with smiles indulgent cheer'd
And sooth'd him into rest.
Smit by thy rapture-beaming eye
Deep flashing through the midnight of their mind,
The sable bands combin'd,
Where Fear's black banner bloats the troubled sky,
Appall'd retire. Suspicion hides her head,
Nor dares th' obliquely gleaming eyeball raise;
Despair, with gorgon-figur'd veil o'erspread,
Speeds to dark Phlegethon's detested maze,
Lo, startled at the heavenly ray,
With speed unwonted Indolence upsprings,
And, heaving, lifts her leaden wings,
And sullen glides away:
Ten thousand forms, by pining Fancy view'd,
Dissolve-Above the sparkling flood
When Phoebus rears his awful brow,
From lengthening lawn and valley low
The troops of fen-born mists retire.
Along the plain
The joyous swain
Eyes the gay villages again,
And gold-illumin'd spire;
While on the billowy ether borne
Floats the loose lay's jovial measure;
And light along the fairy Pleasure,
Her green robes glittering to the morn,
Wantons on silken wing. And goblins all
To the damp dungeon shrink, or hoary hall,
Or westward, with impetuous flight,
[Night. Shoot to the desert realms of their congenial
When first on childhood's eager gaze
Life's varied landscape, stretch'd immense around,
Starts out of night profound,
Thy voice incites to tempt th' untrodden maze.
Fond he surveys thy mild maternal face,
His bashful eye still kindling as he views,
And, while thy lenient arm supports his pace,
With beating heart the upland path pursues;