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Of prostituted muse and hireling bard!
These are the themes that claim our plaudits now; These are the bards to whom the muse must bow; While Milton, Dryden, Pope, alike forgot, Resign their hallow'd bays to Walter Scott.
The time has been, when yet the muse was young, When Homer swept the lyre, and Maro sung, An epic scarce ten centuries could claim, While awe-struck nations hail'd the magic name: The work of each immortal bard appears The single wonder of a thousand years. Empires have moulder'd from the face of earth, Tongues have expired with those who gave them birth, Without the glory such a strain can give, As even in ruin bids the language live. Not so with us, though minor bards, content On one great work a life of labour spent: With eagle pinion soaring to the skies, Behold the ballad-monger Southey rise! To him let Camoëns, Milton, Tasso yield, Whose annual strains, like armies, take the field. First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance, The scourge of England and the boast of France ! Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch, Behold her statue placed in glory's niche; Her fetters burst, and just released from prison, A virgin phoenix from her ashes risen. Next see tremendous Thalaba come on, Arabia's monstrous, wild, and wondrous son; Domdaniel's dread destroyer, who o'erthrew More mad magicians than the world e'er knew. Immortal hero! all thy foes o'ercome, For ever reign-the rival of Tom Thumb ! Since startled metre fled before thy face, Well wert thou doom'd the last of all thy race! Well might triumphant genii bear thee hence, Illustrious conqueror of common sense!
Now, last and greatest, Madoc spreads his sails,
Next comes the dull disciple of thy school, That mild apostate from poetic rule, The simple Wordsworth, framer of a lay As soft as evening in his favourite May, Who warns his friend "to shake off toil and trouble, And quit his books, for fear of growing double; Who, both by precept and example, shows That prose is verse, and verse is merely prose; Convincing all, by demonstration plain, Poetic souls delight in prose insane; And Christmas stories tortured into rhyme Contain the essence of the true sublime. Thus, when he tells the tale of Betty Foy, The idiot mother of an idiot boy; A moon-struck, silly lad, who lost his way, And, like his bard, confounded night with day; So close on each pathetic part he dwells, And each adventure so sublimely tells, That all who view the "idiot in his glory Conceive the bard the hero of the story.
Shall gentle Coleridge pass unnoticed here, To turgid ode and tumid stanza dear? Though themes of innocence amuse him best, Yet still obscurity 's a welcome guest.
If Inspiration should her aid refuse
Oh! wonder-working Lewis! monk, or bard, Who fain wouldst make Parnassus a churchyard! Lo! wreaths of yew, not laurel, bind thy brow, Thy muse a sprite, Apollo's sexton thou! Whether on ancient tombs thou tak'st thy stand, By gibb'ring spectres hail'd, thy kindred band; Or tracest chaste descriptions on thy page, To please the females of our modest age; All hail, M.P. ! from whose infernal brain Thin-sheeted phantoms glide, a grisly train; At whose command "grim women throng in crowds, And kings of fire, of water, and of clouds, With "small gray men, wild yagers, and what not, To crown with honour thee and Walter Scott; Again all hail! if tales like thine may please, St. Luke alone can vanquish the disease; Even Satan's self with thee might dread to dwell, And in thy skull discern a deeper hell.
For thee, translator of the tinsel song,
To whom such glittering ornaments belong,
Who in soft guise, surrounded by a choir Of virgins melting, not to Vesta's fire, With sparkling eyes, and cheek by passion flush'd, Strikes his wild lyre, whilst listening dames are hush'd? 'Tis Little! young Catullus of his day,
As sweet, but as immoral, in his lay!
Grieved to condemn, the muse must still be just,
She bids thee "mend thy line and sin no more."
Hibernian Strangford! with thine eyes of blue,
Whose plaintive strain each love-sick miss admires,
Mend, Strangford ! mend thy morals and thy taste;
Behold!-ye tarts !-one moment spare the textHayley's last work, and worst-until his next; Whether he spin poor couplets into plays, Or damn the dead with purgatorial praise, His style in youth or age is still the same, For ever feeble and for ever tame. Triumphant first see "Temper's Triumphs" shine! At least I'm sure they triumph'd over mine. Of "Music's Triumphs," all who read may swear That luckless music never triumph'd there.
Moravians, rise! bestow some meet reward
Hail, Sympathy! thy soft idea brings
A thousand visions of a thousand things,
And shows, still whimpering through threescore of
The maudlin prince of mournful sonneteers.
Whether thou sing'st with equal ease, and grief,