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Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
But, gazing on each glowing maid,
Place me on Sunium's marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I,
There, swan-like, let me sing and die!
Thus sung, or would, or could, or should have sung, The modern Greek, in tolerable verse;
If not like Orpheus quite, when Greece was young,
Of others' feeling: but they are such liars,
But words are things; and a small drop of ink,
Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
And when his bones are dust, his grave a blank,
Or graven stone found in a barrack's station
And glory long has made the sages smile;
'Tis something, nothing, words, illusion, windDepending more upon the historian's style,
Than on the nam a person leaves behind.
Troy owes to Homer what whist owes to Hoyle :
To the great Marlborough's skill in giving knocks,
Milton's the prince of poets—so we say;
Learn'd, pious, temperate in love and wine: But his life falling into Johnson's way,
We're told this great high priest of all the Nine Was whipt at college—a harsh sire—odd spouse, For the first Mrs. Milton left his house.
All these are, certes, entertaining facts,
Like Shakespeare's stealing deer, Lord Bacon's bribes; Like Titus' youth, and Cæsar's earliest acts;
Like Burns (whom Doctor Currie well describes);
Like Cromwell's pranks;—but although truth exacts
All are not moralists, like Southey, when
He prated to the world of " Pantisocracy"; Or Wordsworth, unexcised, unhired, who then Season'd his pedlar poems with democracy: Or Coleridge, long before his flighty pen
Let to the Morning Post its aristocracy; When he and Southey, following the same path, Espoused two partners (milliners of Bath).
Such names at present cut a convict figure,
Are good manure for their more bare biography. Wordsworth's last quarto, by the way, is bigger
Than any since the birthday of typography; A drowsy, frowzy poem call'd The Excursion, Writ in a manner which is my aversion.
He there builds up a formidable dyke
But let me to my story: I must own,
While I soliloquize beyond expression;
The world, not quite so great as Ariosto.
I know that what our neighbors called "longueurs" (We've not so good a word, but have the thing, In that complete perfection which ensures
An epic from Bob Southey every spring-) Form not the true temptation which allures
The reader; but 'twould not be hard to bring
We learn from Horace, "Homer sometimes sleeps";
With his dear" Waggoners," around his lakes.
Of ocean?—No, of air; and then he makes Another outcry for “ a little boat,"
And drivels seas to set it well afloat.
If he must fain sweep o'er the ethereal plain,
Or if too classic for his vulgar brain,
He fear'd his neck to venture such a nag on, And he must needs mount nearer to the moon, Could not the blockhead ask for a balloon?
'Pedlars," and "Boats," and "Waggons!" O, ye shades Of Pope and Dryden, are we come to this? That trash of such sort not alone evades
Contempt, but from the bathos' vast abyss Floats scumlike uppermost; and these Jack Cades
Of sense and song, above your graves may hiss-
T'our tale. The feast was over, the slaves gone,
The dwarfs and dancing girls had all retired; The Arab lore and poet's song were done,
And every sound of revelry expired; The lady and her lover, left alone,
The rosy flood of twilight sky admired ;— Ave Maria! o'er the earth and sea,
That heavenliest hour of Heaven is worthiest thee!
Ave Maria! blessed be the hour,
The time, the clime, the spot, where I so oft Have felt that moment in its fullest power
Sink o'er the earth so beautiful and soft,