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POEMS.

THE EPIC.

At Francis Allen's on the Christmas-eve,-
The game of forfeiis done—the girls all kiss'd
Beneath the sacred bush and past away-
The parson Holmes, the poet Everard Hall,
The host, and I sat round the wassail-bowl,
Then half-way ebb’d : and there we held a talk,
How all the old honour had from Christmas gone,
Or gone, or dwindled down to some odd games
In some odd nooks like this ; till I, tired out
With cutting eights that day upon the pond,
Where, three times slipping from the outer edge,

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I bump'd the ice into three several stars,
Fell in a doze ; and half-awake I heard
The parson taking wide and wider sweeps,
Now harping on the church-commissioners,
Now hawking at Geology and schism;
Until I woke, and found him settled down
Upon the general decay of faith
Right thro' the world, “ at home was little left,
And none abroad : there was no anchor, none,
To hold by.” Francis, laughing, clapt his hand
On Everard's shoulder, with "I hold by him."
“And I," quoth Everard, “ by the wassail-bowl.”
“ Why yes," I said, “ we knew your gift that way
At college : but another which you had,
I mean of verse (for so we held it then,)
What came of that?” “You know,” said Frank, “he flung
His epic of King Arthur in the fire ! ”
And then to me demanding why ? “Oh, sir,
He thought that nothing new was said, or else
Something so said 'twas nothing—that a truth
Looks freshest in the fashion of the day :
God knows-he has a mint of reasons : ask.

It pleased me well enough.” “Nay, nay,” said Hall,
“Why take the style of those heroic times ?
For nature brings not back the Mastodon,
Nor we those times; and why should any man
Remodel models rather than the life ?
And these twelve books of mine (to speak the truth)
Were faint Homeric echoes, nothing worth,
Mere chaff and draff, much better burnt.”

6 But I,"
Said Francis, “pick'd the eleventh from this hearth,
And have it : keep a thing, its use will come.
I hoard it as a sugar-plum for Holmes.”
He laugh’d, and I, though sleepy, like a horse
That hears the corn-bin open, prick'd my ears,
For I remember'd Everard's college fame
When we were Freshmen : then at my request
He brought it, and the poet little urged,
But with some prelude of disparagement,
Read, mouthing out his hollow oes and aes,
Deep-chested music, and to this result.

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