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Shall clear new ground, and grots and caves repair,
To civilize the babbling echoes there.
Then, while a lover treads a lonely walk,
His voice shall with its own reflection talk,
The closing sounds of all the vain device
Select by trouble frivolously nice,
Resound through verse, and with a false pretence
Support the dialogue, and pass for sense.
Can things like these to lasting praise pretend
Can any Muse the worthless toil befriend?
Ye sacred Virgins, in my thoughts ador'd,
Ah, be for ever in my lines deplor❜d,
If tricks on words acquire an endless name,
And trifles merit in the court of Fame !"
At this the Poet stood concern'd a while,
And view'd his objects with a scornful smile :
Then other images of different kind,
With different workings, enter'd on his mind;
At whose approach, he felt the former gone,
And shiver'd in conceit, and thus went on :
"By a cold region next the Rider goes, Where all lies cover'd in eternal snows; Where no bright genius drives the chariot high, To glitter on the ground, and gild the sky. Bleak level Realm, where Frigid Styles abound, Where never yet a daring thought was found,, But counted feet is Poetry defin'd;
And starv'd conceits, that chill the reader's mind,
A little sense in many words imply,
And drag in loitering numbers slowly by.
Here dry sententious speeches, half asleep,
Prolong'd in lines, o'er many pages creep;
Nor ever shew the passions well express'd,
Nor raise like passions in another's breast.
Here flat narrations fair exploits debase,
In measures void of every shining grace;
Which never arm their hero for the field,
Nor with prophetic story paint the shield,
Nor fix the crest, nor make the feathers wave,
Nor with their characters reward the brave;
Undeck'd they stand, and unadorn'd with praise,
And fail to profit while they fail to please.
Here forc'd Description is so strangely wrought,
It never stamps its image on the thought;
The lifeless trees may stand for ever bare,
And rivers stop, for aught the readers care;
They see no branches trembling in the woods,
Nor hear the murmurs of increasing floods,
Which near the roots of ruffled waters flow,
And shake the shadows of the boughs below.
Ah, sacred Verse, replete with heavenly flame,
Such cold endeavors would invade thy name!
The writer fondly would in these survive,
Which, wanting spirit, never seem'd alive:
But, if Applause or Fame attend his pen,
Let breathless statues pass for breathing men."
Here seem'd the Singer touch'd at what he sung, And grief a while delay'd his hand and tongue : But soon he check'd his fingers, chose a strain, And florish'd shrill, and thus arose again:
"Pass the next region which appears to show: 'Tis very open, unimprov'd, and low; No noble flights of elevated thought,
No nervous strength of sense maturely wrought,
Possess this Realm; but common turns are there,
Which idly sportive move with childish air.
On callow wings, and like a plague of flies,
The little fancies in a Poem rise,
The jaded Reader every where to strike,
And move his passions every where alike.
There all the graceful Nymphs are forc'd to play
Where any water bubbles in the way:
There shaggy Satyrs are oblig'd to rove
In all the fields, and over all the grove:
There every star is summon'd from its sphere,
To dress one face, and make Clorinda fair:
There Cupids fling their darts in every song,
While Nature stands neglected all along :
Till the teaz'd hearer, vex'd at last to find
One constant object still assault the mind,
Admires no more at what's no longer new,
And hastes to shun the persecuting view.
There bright surprizes of Poetic rage
(Whose strength and beauty, more confirm'd in age For having lasted, last the longer still)
By weak attempts are imitated ill,
Or carried on beyond their proper light,
Or with refinement florish'd out of sight.
There Metaphors on Metaphors abound,
And sense by differing images confound:
Strange injudicious management of thought,
Not born to rage, nor into method brought.
Ah, sacred Muse! from such a Realm retreat,
Nor idly waste the influence of thy heat
On shallow soils, where quick productions rise,
And wither as the warmth that rais'd them dies."
Here o'er his breast a sort of pity roll'd, Which something laboring in the mind control'd, And made him touch the loud resounding strings, While thus with Music's stronger tones he sings:
"Mount higher still, still keep thy faithful seat, Mind the firm reins, and curb thy courser's heat; Nor let him touch the Realms that next appear, Whose hanging turrets seem a fall to fear; And strangely stand along the tracts of air, Where thunder rolls, and bearded comets glare. The thoughts that most extravagantly soar, The words that sound as if they meant to roar; For rant and noise are offer'd here to choice, And stand elected by the public voice. All schemes are slighted which attempt to shine At once with strange and probable design;
'Tis here a mean conceit, a vulgar view,
That bears the least respect to seeming true;
While every trifling turn of things is seen
To move by Gods descending in machine.
Here swelling lines with stalking strut proceed,
And in the clouds terrific rumblings breed;
Here single heroes deal grim deaths around,
And armies perish in tremendous sound;
Here fearful monsters are preserv'd to die,
In such a tumult as affrights the sky;
For which the golden sun shall hide with dread,
And Neptune lift his sedgy-matted head,
Admire the roar, and dive with dire dismay,
And seek his deepest chambers in the sea.
To raise their subject thus the lines devise,
And false extravagance would fain surprize;
Yet still, ye Gods, ye live untouch'd by fear,
And undisturb'd at bellowing monsters here:
But with compassion guard the brain of men,
If thus they bellow through the Poet's pen:
So will the Reader's eyes discern aright
The rashest sally from the noblest flight,
And find that only boast and sound agree
To seem the life and voice of majesty,
When Writers rampant on Apollo call,
And bid him enter and possess them all,
And make his flames afford a wild pretence
To keep them unrestrain'd by common sense.
Ah, sacred Verse! lest Reason quit thy seat,
Give none to such, or give a gentler heat."