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A NEW SIMILE, IN THE MANNER OF SWIFT.
1 I LONG had rack'd my brains to find
2 A likeness to the scribbling kind;
3 The modern scribbling kind, who write,
4 In wit, and sense, and nature's spite;
5 Till reading, I forgot what day on,
6 A chapter out of Took's Pantheon;
7 I think with something I met there,
8 To suit my purpose to a hair;[Page 193]
9 But let us not proceed too furious,
10 First please to turn to God Mercurius;
11 You'll find him pictur'd at full length
12 In book the second, page the tenth:
13 The stress of all my proofs on him I lay
14 And now proceed we to our simile.
15 Imprimes, pray observe his hat;
16 Wings upon either side — mark that!
17 Well! what is it from thence we gather?
18 Why these denote a brain of a feather.
19 A brain of feather! very right,
20 With wit that's flighty, learning light;
21 Such as to modern bard's decreed;
22 A just comparison — proceed.
23 In the next place, his feet peruse,
24 Wings grow again from both his shoes
25 Design'd no doubt, their part to bear,
26 And waft his godship through the air;
27 And here my simile unites,
28 For in a modern poet's flights,
29 I'm sure it may be justly said,
30 His feet are useful as his head.
31 Lastly vouchsafe t'observe his hand,
32 Fill'd with a snake-incircled wand;
33 By classic authors term'd caducis,
34 And highly fam'd for several uses.
35 To wit — most wond'rously endu'd,
36 No poppy-water half so good;
37 For let folks only get a touch,
38 Its soporisic virtue's such,
39 Tho' ne'er so much awake before,
40 That quickly they begin to snore.
41 Add too, what certain writers tell,
42 With this he drives men's souls to hell.
43 Now to apply, begin we then;
44 His wand's a modern author's pen;
45 The serpents round about it twin'd,
46 Denote him of the reptile kind;
47 Denote the rage with which he writes,
48 His frothy slaver, venom'd bites;
49 An equal semblance still to keep,
50 Alike they both conduce to sleep.
51 This diff'rence only, as the God,
52 Drove souls to Tart'rus with his rod;
53 With his goosequill the scribbling elf,
54 Instead of others, damns himself.
55 And here my simile almost tript,
56 Yet grant a word by way of postscript,
57 Moreover, Merc'ry had a failing:
58 Well! what of that? out with it — stealing:
59 In which our scribbling bards agree,
60 Being each as great thief as he;
61 But ev'n his deities' existence
62 Shall lend my simile assistance.
63 Our modern bards! why what a pox
64 Are they but senseless stones and blocks?
About this text
Author: Oliver Goldsmith
Themes: poetry; literature; writing
Text view / Document view
Goldsmith, Oliver, 1730?-1774. The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith, M.B. Containing all his Essays and Poems. London: printed for W. Griffin, Catherine-street, in the Strand, 1775, pp. 192-194. ,iv,,10-200p. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T146118; OTA K113624.000)
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