The PLEASURE of POETRY.
1 HAPPY the babe whose natal hour
2 The Muse propitious deigns to grace,
3 No frowns on his soft fore-head lowr,
4 No cries distort his tender face;
5 But o'er her child, forgetting all her pangs,
6 Insatiate of her smiles, the raptur'd parent hangs.
7 Let statesmen on the sleepless bed
8 The fate of realms and princes weigh,
9 While in the agonizing head
10 They form ideal scenes of sway;
11 Not long, alas! the fancied charms delight,
12 But melt, like spectre-forms, in silent shades of night.
13 Ye heavy pedants, dull of lore,
14 Nod o'er the taper's livid flame;
15 Ye misers, still increase your store;
16 Still tremble at the robber's name:
17 Or shudd'ring from the recent dream arise,
18 While visionary fire glows dreadful to your eyes.
19 Far other joys the Muses show'r
20 Benignant, on the aching breast,
21 'Tis theirs in the lone, chearless hour,
22 To lull the lab'ring heart to rest:
23 With bright'ning calms they glad the prospect drear,
24 And bid each groan subside, and dry up ev'ry tear.
25 From earthly mists, ye gentle Nine!
26 Whene'er you purge the visual ray,
27 Sudden the landscapes fairer shine,
28 And blander smiles the face of day:
29 Ev'n Chloe's lips with brighter vermil glow,
30 And on her youthful cheek the rose-buds fresher blow.
31 When Boreas sounds his fierce alarms,
32 And all the green-clad nymphs are fled,
33 Oh! then I lie in Fancy's arms
34 On fragrant May's delicious bed;
35 And thro' the shade, slow-creeping from the dale,
36 Feel on my drowsy face the lilly-breathing gale.
37 Or on the mountain's airy height
38 Hear Winter call his howling train,
39 Chas'd by the Spring and Dryads light,
40 That now resume their blissful reign:
41 While smiling Flora binds her Zephyr's brows,
42 With ev'ry various flow'r that Nature's lap bestows.
43 More potent than the Sybil's gold
44 That led Aeneas' bold emprize,
45 When you, Calliope, unfold
46 Your laurel branch, each phantom flies!
47 Slow cares with heavy wings beat the dull air,
48 And dread, and pale-ey'd grief, and pain and black despair.
49 With you Elysium's happy bow'rs,
50 The mansions of the glorious dead,
51 I visit oft, and cull the flow'rs
52 That rise spontaneous to your tread;
53 Such active virtue warms that pregnant earth,
54 And heav'n with kindlier hand assists each genial birth.
55 Here oft I wander thro' the gloom,
56 While pendent fruit the leaves among
57 Gleams thro' the shade with golden bloom,
58 Where lurk along the feather'd throng,
59 Whose notes th' eternal spring unceasing chear,
60 Nor leave in mournful silence half the drooping year.
61 And oft I view along the plain
62 With slow and solemn steps proceed
63 Heroes and chiefs, an aweful train,
64 And high exalt the laurell'd head;
65 Submiss I honour every sacred name,
66 Deep in the column grav'd of adamantine fame.
67 But cease, my Muse, with tender wing
68 Unfledg'd, etherial flight to dare,
69 Stern Cato's bold discourse to sing,
70 Or paint immortal Brutus' air;
71 May Britain ne'er the weight of slav'ry feel,
72 Or bid a Brutus shake for her his crimson steel!
73 Lo! yonder negligenly laid
74 Fast by the stream's impurpled side,
75 Where thro' the thick-entangled shade,
76 The radiant waves of nectar glide,
77 Each sacred poet strikes his tuneful lyre,
78 And wakes the ravish'd heart, and bids the soul aspire.
79 No more is heard the plaintive strain,
80 Or pleasing Melancholy's song,
81 Tibullus here forgets his pain,
82 And joins the love-exulting throng;
83 For Cupid flutters round with golden dart,
84 And fiercely twangs his bow at ev'ry rebel heart.
85 There stretch'd at ease Anacreon gay;
86 And on his melting Lesbia's breast,
87 With eye half-rais'd Catullus lay,
88 And gaz'd himself to balmy rest:
89 While Venus' self thro' all the am'rous groves
90 With kisses fresh-distill'd supply'd their constant loves.
91 Now Horace' hand the string inspir'd,
92 My soul, impatient as he sung,
93 The Muse unconquerable fir'd,
94 And heavenly accents seiz'd my tongue;
95 Then lock'd in admiration sweet I bow'd,
96 Confess'd his potent art, nor could forbear aloud. *
97 Hail glorious bard! whose high command,
98 A thousand various strings obey,
99 While joins and mixes to thy hand
100 At once the bold and tender lay!
101 Nor mighty Homer down Parnassus steep,
102 Rolls the full tide of verse so clear, and yet so deep.
103 O could I catch one ray divine
104 From thy intolerable blaze!
105 To pour strong lustre on my line,
106 And my aspiring song to raise;
107 Then should the Muse her choicest influence shed,
108 And with eternal wreaths entwine my lofty head.
109 Then would I sing the sons of Fame,
110 Th' immortal chiefs of ancient age,
111 Or tell of love's celestial flame,
112 Or ope fair friendship's sacred page,
113 And leave the sullen thought and struggling groan,
114 To take their watchful stands around the gaudy throne.