Matthew Pilkington, “The Lost Muse”

MATTHEW PILKINGTON
“The Lost Muse”

Clio the sweetest Muse of Nine
Who charm the Gods with Lays divine,
Private and unperceiv’d withdrew,
And swift from sacred Pindus flew,
On some exalted Project bent,                                                    5
But told no Creature her Intent.

The God of Numbers heard it said,
His fav’rite, sweet-tongu’d Muse was fled,
And he had oft observ’d, of late
That she was absent from her Seat,                                        10
When all her tuneful Sister-Train
Were forming some immortal Strain.

He us’d to send her, now and then,
With Hints to some peculiar Men,
To Pope, Delany, Gay, or Swift,                                                    15
But now he cou’d not guess her Drift,
And wonders much, that she wou’d venture
To visit Bards, except he sent her;
So, half-provok’d, away he flies,
Takes Hermes with him in Disguise,                                          20
Resolv’d to roam the World around,
’Till Clio’s private Haunt is found.

The Gods, impatient of Delay,
To fam’d Eblana wing their Way,
And prudent, first at Swift’s descend,                                      25
Apollo’s best-regarded Friend,
And whom the God of Verse and Wit,
Inspir’d in ev’ry Line he writ;
There might they hope their Prize to gain
Where ev’ry Muse delights to Reign;                                        30
But she, to execute her Scheme,
Had left him just before they came.

Quick as descending Rays of Light,
To Delville next they take their Flight:
Delville, where all the Wise resort,                                            35
Where oft the Muses keep their Court;
And veil’d from ev’ry mortal Eye
Thro’ all the Doctor’s Rooms they pry,
They search his arbour’d Seats, and Garden,
(Fit Place to find a Muse or Bard in:)                                         40
Then turn’d his Papers o’er with Care,
And plainly found she had been there,
Such Learning, Elegance, and Ease,
Appear in all Delany’s Lays,
Such Beauties in his Numbers shine,                                      45
As prove their Origin divine.

With these their Disappointments vext,
They fly to fair Saphira’s next,
And found her, forming into Rhime
A Thought exalted and Sublime,                                              50
Perceiv’d such Excellence and Wit,
Such Charms in all she spoke and writ,
As soon convinc’d their wond’ring Eyes,
The Muse was with her in Disguise,
And, fond the rising Age to bless,                                            55
Assum’d a mortal Form and Dress.

The God, delighted, calms his Rage,
And crys, there Live, to charm the Age,
Be thou a gay inspiring Guest,
And fill, the soft Delights, her Breast,                                     60
That Breast with all that’s good replete,
But Clio, this will be thy Fate,
Thou shalt contrive the deathless Lays,
But see Saphira win the Praise.

NOTES:

1 Clio “Proper name of the Muse of epic poetry and history” (OED).

4 Pindus A range of mountains in west central Greece, stretching from the border with Albania southwards to the Gulf of Corinth (OED).

7 God of Numbers Apollo, God of poetry (OED).

15 Pope Alexander Pope ( 1688–1744 ), an English poet and a major figure of the Augustan age who is famous for his caustic wit and metrical skill, in particular his use of the heroic couplet (OED); Delany Patrick Delany (?1685–1768) an Irish clergyman and writer, friend of Jonathan Swift (OED); Gay John Gay (1685–1732) an English poet and playwright who is chiefly known for The Beggar’s Opera (1728) (OED); Swift Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) an Irish satirist, poet, and Anglican cleric; known as Dean Swift. He is best known for Gulliver’s Travels (1726) (OED).

18 Bards Poets (OED).

20 Hermes “In Greek mythology, a deity, the son of Zeus and Maia, represented as the messenger of the gods, the god of science, commerce, eloquence, and many of the arts of life” (OED).

24 Eblana Name recorded in Ptolemy’s geography (2nd cent. ad) for the site of what is now Dublin (OED).

26 Apollo The god of the sun, truth, music, poetry, dance and healing. Poets and bards put themselves under his protection (OED).

34 Delville The Delany estate located in Glasnevin, Ireland; a separate village in the eighteenth century, now part of Dublin.

48 Saphira Mary Barber (c. 1685-c.1755), poet and friend of Swift and Delany (Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington, vol. I, ed. A.C. Elias, Jr, 393).

49 Rhime “Metre, measure” (in verse) (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (1730), pp. 52-58. [Google Books]

Edited by August Braddock


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