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Here rural notes a gentle mirth inspire,
Our Spencer, first by Pizan poets taught, To us their tales, their style, and numbers brought. To follow ours, now Tuscan bards descend, From Philips borrow, though to Spencer lend,
Like Philips too the yoke of rhyme disdain ;
close, Oft rise to fustian, or descend to prose. Your judgment, Philips, ruled with steady sway, You used no curbing rhyme, the Muse to stay; To stop her fury, or direct her way. Thee on the wing thy uncheck'd vigour bore, To wanton freely, or securely soar.
So the stretch'd cord the shackle-dancer tries, As prone to fall, as impotent to rise : When freed he moves, the sturdy cable bends, He mounts with pleasure, and secure descends ;
Now dropping seems to strike the distant ground, Now high in air his quivering feet rebound.
Rail on, ye triflers, who to Will's repair ; For new lampoons, fresh cant, or modish air ; Rail on at Milton's son, who wisely bold Rejects new phrases, and resumes the old : Thus Chaucer lives in younger Spencer's strains, In Maro's page reviving Ennius reigns ; The ancient words the Majesty complete, And make the poem venerably great : So when the queen in royal habits drest, Oft mystick emblems grace th' imperial vest, And in Eliza's robes all Anne stands confest.
A haughty bard, to fame by volumes raised, At Dick's, and Batson's, and through Smithfield
praised, Cries out aloud-Bold Oxford bard, forbear With rugged numbers to torment my ear; Yet not like thee the heavy critick soars, But paints in fustian, or in turn deplores ; With Bunyan's style profanes heroic songs, To the tenth page lean Homilies prolongs ; For far fetch'd rhymes makes puzzled angels strain), And in low prose dull Lucifer complain :
His envious Muse, by native dulness curst, Damns the best poems, and contrives the worst.
Beyond his praise or blame thy works prevail Complete where Dryden and thy Milton fail ; Great Milton's wing on lower themes subsides, And Dryden oft in rhyme his weakness hides; You ne'er with jingling words deceive the ear, And yet, on humble subjects, great appear. Thrice happy youth, whom noble Isis crowns ! Whom Blackmore censures, and Godolphin owns : So on the tuneful Margarita's tongue The listening nymphs and ravish'd heroes hung: But cits and fops the heaven-born music blame, And bawl, and hiss, and damn her into fame : Like her sweet voice, is thy harmonious song, As high as sweet, as easy, and as strong.
Oh! had relenting Heaven prolong'd his days, The towering bard had sung in nobler lays, How the last trumpet wakes the lazy dead, How saints aloft the cross triumphant spread, How opening heavens their happy regions shew, And gnawing gulphs, with flaming vengeance glow, And saints rejoice above, and sinners howl below: Well might he sing the day he could not fear, And paint the glories he was sure to wear.
Oh best of friends, will ne'er the silent urn
Whom shall I find unbiass'd in dispute, Eager to learn, unwilling to confute?