Tag Archives: poetry

Rev. Anthony Freston, “The Poet’s Farewell to his Muse”

REV. ANTHONY FRESTON

The Poet’s Farewell to his Muse

 

FAREWELL sweet Muse, that oft in slipshod guise
Hast led astray my song-enraptur’d soul;
Oft call’d me forth beneath the Moon’s pale rise,
Or turn’d my wrapt eye to the starry pole.

IN giddy youth by partial friends misled,                                     5
I trod (adventurous wight) poetic ground;
But soon the green bay wither’d on my head,
I got five shillings, and I lost five pound.

NO longer can the Bard a patron find,
Poor Merit, now neglected, droops, I cried;                                         10
False-flattering Fancy fill’d my feeble mind,
And what I took for merit was but pride.

PRIDE led me on to snatch poetic fame,
To crop with daring hand Parnassian bays;
T’intrude with Dryden’s and with Pope’s my name,                             15
And live to future times in living lays.

TO climb the summit of cold Haemus’ hill,
“Of antique Bards the arduous steps to try;”
And largely quaffing the Pierian rill,
Meet the keen glances of the public eye.                                               20

BUT sober Reason now resumes her reign,
Tells me ‘tis better far to read than write;
One may reap pleasure, t’other must bear pain,
The world’s neglect, the critic’s ranc’rous spite:

ENVY that pines at merit not her own,                                            25
Low purse-proud Ignorance’ consequential sneer;
Exalted Meanness frowning into stone,
The grin of Folly, and the gibe severe.

FAREWELL sweet Muse, henceforth beguile no more,
No Critic “hangs me on his turn’d-up nose;”                                            30
No flattering gale shall tempt me from the shore,
Or lure me from the land of humble prose.

NOTES:

1 slipshod “Untidy” (OED).

4 starry pole “The polestar […] a guiding light” (OED).

6 wight An archaic term for a human being (OED).

7 green bay The bay laurel. In classical antiquity, its leaves were “woven into a wreath or garland to reward a conqueror or poet” (OED).

11 Fancy “The process, and the faculty, of forming mental representations of things not present to the senses; fancy and imagination […] are commonly distinguished: fancy being used to express aptitude for the invention of illustrative or decorative imagery, while imagination is the power of giving to ideal creations the inner consistency of realities” (OED).

14 Parnassian bays Symbolic of poetic excellence. In ancient Greece, Mount Parnassus was “the source of literary, esp. poetic, inspiration” as well the home of the Muses (OED).

15 Dryden John Dryden (1631-1700), English poet, dramatist, and essayist; Pope Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet and critic (Encyclopedia Britannica).

16 living lays That is, his published poetry.

17 Haemus’ hill The Balkan Mountains, known during the classical period by the Latin name, Haemus Mons (Encyclopedia Britannica).

18 try “Contracta sequi vestigia vatum. The word contracta has singular force and beauty: it brings to our view the shortened and careful steps of those who walk in dangerous, narrow, and slippery paths” [Author’s note].  Possibly also an allusion to lines in Pope’s Essay on Criticism (1711): “Hear how learn’d Greece her useful rules indites, / When to repress, and when indulge our flights: / High on Parnassus’ top her sons she show’d, / And pointed out those arduous paths they trod; / Held from afar, aloft, th’ immortal prize, / And urg’d the rest by equal steps to rise” (ll. 91-95).

19 Pierian rill Variation of “Pierian spring,” a metaphorical source of knowledge sacred to the Greek Muses.

28 gibe Alternate spelling of “jibe,” a taunt, flout, or jeer (OED).

30 “hangs me on his turn’d up nose” Unable to trace this as a quotation; to turn one’s nose up at something is to be disdainful or scornful of it.

SOURCE:  Poems on Several Subjects (London, 1787), pp. 80-82. [Google Books]

Edited by Michael Shufro

John Hawes, “On Seeing an Infant Boy Seven Years of Age learning to write”

JOHN HAWES

“On Seeing an Infant Boy of Seven Years of Age learning to write”

 

HIS Infant Fingers, scarce could grasp the Quill
And yet with Ardour, he pursu’d his Skill;
Attention fix’d his Mind, and fill’d his Brain,
His Copy in Perfection to explain;
His Eye pursu’d each Stroke so superfine,                                         5
And strove to improve, each Character and Line;
So far before the common Time of Youth.
Did Art appear in Innocence, and Truth;
He forc’d these Lines, to vindicate his Praise,
And in my Mind did these Ideas raise.                                               10

But when I found Apollo fir’d his Soul,
To Musick’s Charms, and saw his Fingers roll,
I found his Frame with Heavenly Gifts endow’d,
‘Bove vulgar Mortals, blest by mighty Jove.
He joins the sounding Lyre with Infant Voice,                                  15
“By Inclination led, and fix’d by Choice;”
Points full Perfection, in his Time to come,
If Manhood crowns Him, in Time’s fickle Womb.

Thus when Pygmalion strove to carve his Maid,
Each stroke with curious View, his Mind survey’d;                          20
He still pursu’d the chissel, and improv’d
Each Touch Divine, to gain the Art he lov’d.
In Innocence, by his own Skill betray’d,
The Goddess Venus, bless him in his Maid;
Gave Life to Ivory, for his matchless Strife,                                       25
Made his own Genius to become his Wife.

NOTES:

1 Quill  A pen made from the hollow shaft of a bird’s feather (OED).

2 Ardour  Burning with ferocity and intensity (OED).

6 Character  The letters of the alphabet (OED).

9 vindicate  “To clear from censure, criticism, suspicion, or doubt, by means of demonstration; to justify or uphold by evidence or argument” (OED).

11 Apollo  A Greek God of music and poetry, among many things, and known for his youthfulness (OED).

11 fir’d  An archaic contraction of the word “fired”; to ignite (OED).

14 Jove  Refers to Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Zeus (OED).

15 sounding Lyre  The instrument of Apollo, Greek God of Music (OED).

 16 “By Inclination led, and fix’d by Choice”  Quoted From William Congreve’s “Epistle to the Right Honourable Charles Lord Halifax” (Line 4).

19 Pygmalion A sculptor from Cyprus who fell in love with the sculpture that he carved (Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book X, ll. 243-297).

24 Venus  The Roman goddess of love, beauty, and desire grants Pygmalion his wish for his sculpture to come to life (Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book X, ll. 243-297).

SOURCE:  Poems, Moral and Divine (Norwich, 1754), pp. 21-22. [Google Books]

Edited by Paul Madariaga

Charlotte Lennox, “To Aurelia, on her attempting to write Verses”

CHARLOTTE LENNOX

“To Aurelia, on her attempting to write Verses.”

 

Long had Aurelia vainly stove
To write in melting strains of Love;
Ambitious of a Poet’s Name,
She wept, she sigh’d, she long’d for Fame;
While of the great Design possest                                            5
She thus the Delian God addrest:
Brightest of heavenly Powers above,
Immortal Son of thund’ring Jove;
Oh glorious Deity impart
To me the soft poetic Art;                                                          10
Vouchsafe to me thy sacred Fire,
And with thyself my Soul inspire.
She Spake — the God indulgent hears
The beauteous Maid, and grants her Prayers.
On Clio turns his radiant Eyes,                                                  15
And to the tuneful Goddess cries,
Fly hence to fair Aurelia’s Aid,
In heavenly Strains instruct the Maid:
The Muse obeys the God’s Commands
With Joy, and swift as Thought descends,                                20
And at Aurelia’s Side attends.
Conscious of her new Power, the Maid
With Thanks the glorious Gift repay’d:
Now Waller’s Sweetness, Granville’s fire,
At once her tuneful Breast inspire:                                            25
No more she vainly strives to please,
The ready Numbers flow with ease:
All soft, harmonious and divine;
Apollo shines in every Line.
The Delian God with Rapture fill’d                                              30
Upon his lovely Pupil smil’d.
Daphne, his once-lov’d charming Care,
Appear’d to him not half so fair:
For the lost Nymph he mourns no more;
Nor in his Songs her Loss deplore;                                            35
But from the slighted Tree he tears
It’s Leaves, to deck Aurelia’s Hairs.
A Poet now by all she’s own’d,
And with immortal Honour crown’d.

NOTES:

6 Delian God Apollo.

8 Jove Jupiter, also known as Jove, is the god of the sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology. He is also remembered as Zeus, his name among the Greeks (New World Encyclopedia).

11 Vouchsafe “To give or grant something to someone in a gracious or condescending manner” (OED).

15 Clio The muse of history.

24 Waller’s Sweetness Edmund Waller (1606-1687), poet and politician, known in the period for his panegyric verse and “sweet” lyric poetry (Britannica); Granville’s fire  George Granville, Baron Lansdowne (1666-1735), poet, playwright, and politician, a poetic imitator of Waller, but also known for his fiery political speeches (Britannica).

29 Apollo In this context, the god of song and poetry.

30 Rapture “A state, condition or fit of intense delight or enthusiasm” (OED).

32 Daphne In Greek mythology, to escape Apollo’s pursuit, Daphne was turned into a bay laurel tree, whose leaves formed into a garland symbolize poetic excellence (Brittanica).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1747), pp. 28-30. [Google Books]

Edited by Astrid Regalado Sibrian

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