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ON THE Present Corrupted State OF POETRY.

I.
1 WRite thy own Elegy Apostate Art,
2 Thou Angel once of Light;
3 But, since thy Fall, a Fiend of Night,
4 Mankind endeav'ring to pervert.
5 At first, to th'Altars Service thou wert bound,
6 With Innocence instead of Lawrel Crown'd;
7 Anthems and Hallelujah's only did'st resound:
8 But now, forgetful of thy high Descent,
9 meanly thou labour'st to foment
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10 The Vanity and Vices of the Age;
11 Flatt'ring in Courts, and Rev'lling on the Stage.
12 That Poesie, that did at first inspire
13 Devotion and Seraphick Fire,
14 Degenerate now her Art imploy's
15 In Recommending Sensual Ioyes;
16 Bawd-like, contriving to excite
17 The wasted Letcher's Appetite;
18 And with forc'd Heat sustain Love's languishing Desire.
II.
19 The wisest and most potent Kings of Old, did not disdain
20 To leave their Royal Names Enroll'd,
21 With those of the Poetick Train:
22 They reapt more durable Renown
23 From Writing well,
24 Then when they did in Arms excell:
25 They priz'd their Poets Wreath above their Prince's Crown.
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26 But then the Celebrated Nine,
27 Pious as Sybills, Chast as Vestals were,
28 The Graces were not more Divine;
29 But now Deform'd, and Bloated they appear;
30 Nyctimene sustain'd, no Change so fowl,
31 Transform'd into a glaring Owl;
32 Or when th' Audacious King a New-made Wolf did Houl.
III.
33 In Ages past, when Vertue was allow'd,
34 The Dignity of Verse was Understood:
35 'Twas then employ'd t'embalm some Worthy's Name:
36 Nought then cou'd purchase Elogies but Fame.
37 But Poetry now is Mercenary grown.
38 Encomiums she'll bestow
39 On Potentates, by their high Rank alone,
40 And singular Vices infamously known;
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41 For, if no Paint or Varnish can disguise
42 Their gross Enormities,
43 Audaciously she'll Praise their Vices too!
44 Thus none more largely share in her Applause,
45 Than some grand Murtherer O'th' Field,
46 That boasts of Myriads kill'd,
47 Regardless of the Justice of his Cause.
48 If to Destroy can challenge Fame,
49 Famines and Plagues the largest Trophies claim;
50 But these the Muses Peccadillo's are,
51 And cannot with their blacker Crimes compare:
52 Long since they were Immodest grown, and Vain;
53 But are (Oh! Heav'n) at last become Profane!
54 Atheism and Blasphemy have dar'd to Preach,
55 Religion of Imposture to impeach;
56 Stiffling that Zeal, which first Themselves to the rude World did. Teach.
IV.
57 Time was when Pious Bards might safely Dream
58 By Helicon, or fair Pirene's Stream;
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59 And fly their towring Wit at some Caelestial Theam:
60 But now, with Leaprous Fancies bathing there,
61 Those Springs so infamous are grown,
62 Chast Souls fear to approach the Muses Air;
63 And sacred Theams the Poyson'd Waters shun.
64 Nor has Heav'ns just Revenge regardless view'd,
65 Th' Enormities
66 Of these Apostate Votaries;
67 But them and their Confaed'rates too, with signal Rage pursu'd.
68 A constant Curse of Poverty attends
69 Th'Unfortunate Man, whom any Muse befriends.
70 All who in this deluding Art engage,
71 Set out with Pleasure, drooping reach their Stage;
72 Frollick in Youth, and Male-content in Age!
73 Thus (neer Learn'd Cam's fair Current Pensive laid)
74 Th'Ill-treated Cowley did his Muse upbraid:
75 Ah! who'd Credit that Surveys,
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76 Th' Amours and Dalliance of their Youthful Dayes?
77 That ere this Peaceful Bard, and gentle Muse,
78 Cou'd Bicker thus, and mutually accuse?
79 So, whil'st some seeming Happy Pair
80 (who Hymens Fetters wear)
81 In Publick Fond as Turtles are,
82 Th'Unwed with Envy their Caresses View
83 But Ah! What wou'd they do,
84 If (as they see their open Loves) their private Feuds
85 They knew?

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Title (in Source Edition): ON THE Present Corrupted State OF POETRY.
Author: Nahum Tate
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Tate, Nahum, c. 1652-1715. Poems by N. Tate. London: Printed by T.M. for Benj. Tooke ..., 1677, pp. 14-19. [15],133p. (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [Harding C 2953].)

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