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CANTO 1.

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jo

RASH author, 'tis a vain presumptuous crime,
To undertake the sacred art of rhyme;
If at thy birth the stars that ruld thy sense
Shone not with a poetic influence;
In thy ftrait genius thou wilt still be bound,
Find Phæbus deaf, and Pegasus unsound.

You then that burn with the desire to try
The dangerous course of charming poetry;
Forbear in fruitless verse to lose your time,
Or take for genius the desire of rhyme;
Fear the allurements of a specious bait,
And well consider your own force and weig.it.

Nature abounds in wits of every kind,
And for each author can a talent find :
One may in verse describe an amorous flame,
Another sharpen a short epigram :
Waller a hero's mighty acts extol,
Spenser fing Rosalind in pastoral :
But authors that themselves too much efteem,
Lose their own genius, and mistake their theme; 20
Thus in times past Dubartas vainly writ,
Allaying facred truth with trifling wit,
Impertinently, and without delight,
Describ'd the Ifraelites' triumphant flight,

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her you

you bend

your force,

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And following Moses o'er the sandy plain,
Perish'd with Pharaoh in the Arabian main.
Whate'er

you write of pleasant or sublime,
Always let sense accompany your rhyme :
Falsely they seem each other to oppose ;
Rhyme must be made with reason's laws to close:
And when to conquer
The mind will triumph in the noble course;
To reason's yoke The quickly will incline,
Which, fạr from hurting, renders her divine:
But if neglected will as easily stray,
And master reason which she should obey.
Love reason then; and let whate'er you write
Borrow from her its beauty, force, and light.
Most writers mounted on a resty muse,
Extravagant and senseless objects chuse;
They think they err, if in their verse they fall
On any thought that's plain or natural :
Fly this excess; and let Italians be
Vain authors of false glittering poetry.
All ought to aim at fense; but most in vain
Strive the hard pass and Nippery path to gain :
You drown, if to the right or left you stray;
Reason to go has often but one way.
Sometimes an author, fond of his own thought,
Pursues its object till it's over-wrought:
If he describes a house, he shews the face,
And after walks you round from place to place;
Here is a vista, there the doors unfold,
Balconies here are ballustred with gold;
Then counts the rounds and ovals in the halls,
“ The feftoons, freezes, and the afiragals :"

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Tir'd with his tedious pomp away I run,
And skip o'er twenty pages to be gone.
Of such defcriptions the vain folly fee,
And thun their barren superfluity.
All that is needless carefully avoid;
The mind once satisfy'd is quickly cloy'd :
He cannot write who knows not to give o'er;
To mend one fault he makes a hundred more:
A verse was weak, you turn it, much too strong,
And grow obscure, for fear you should be long.
Some are not gaudy, but are flat and dry;
Not to be low, another foars too high.
Would

you

of every one deserve the praise,
In writing vary your discourse and phrase;
A frozen style that neither ebbs nor flows,
Instead of pleasing makes us gape and doze.
Those tedious authors are esteem'd by none,
Who tire us, humming the same heavy tone.
Happy who in his verse can gently steer,
From grave to light; from pleasant to severe:
His works will be admir'd wherever found,
And oft with buyers will be compass’d round,
In all you write be neither low nor vile:
The meanest theme may have a proper ftyle.

The dull burlesque appear'd with impudence,
And pleas’d by novelty in spite of sense.
All, except trivial points, grew out of date;
Parnassus spoke the cant of Billingsgate:
Boundless and mad, disorder'd rhyme was seen:
Disguis’d Apollo chang’d to Harlequin.
This plague which first in country towns began,
Cities and kingdoms quickly over-ran ;

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The dullest scribblers some admirers found,
And the Mock Tempest was a while renowo'd: 90
But this low stuff the town at last despis'd,
And scorn'd the folly that they once had priz'd;
Distinguish'd dull from natural and plain,
And left the villages to Fleckno's reign.
Let not so mean a style your muse debase;

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But learn from Butler the buffooning grace:
And let burlesque in ballads be employ'd;
Yet noisy bombast carefully avoid,
Nor think to raise, though on Pharsalia's plain,
“ Millions of mourning mountains of the Nain :" 100
Nor with Dubartas bridle up the floods,
And perriwig with wool the baldpate woods.
Chuse a just style; be grave without constraint,
Great without pride, and lovely without paint:
Write what your reader may be pleas'd to hear: 105
And for the measure have a careful ear.
On eafy numbers fix your happy choice ;
Of jarring sounds avoid the odious noise:
The fullest verse and the most labor'd sense
Displease us, if the ear once take offence. .
Our ancient verse, as homely as the times,
Was rude, unmeasur'd, overclogg'd with rhimes;
Number and cadence, that have since been town,
To those unpolish'd writers were unknown.
Fairfax was he, who, in that darker age,

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By his just rules restrain'd poetic rage;
Spenser did next in Pastorals excel,
And taught the noble art of writing well:
To stricter rules the stanza did restrain,
And found for poetry a richer vein.

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Then D'Avenant came; who, with a new-found art,
Chang'd all, spoild all, and had his way a-part:
His haughty muse all others did despise,
And thought in triumph to bear off the prize,

125 'Till the sharp-fighted critics of the times, In their Mock-Gondibert, expos'd his rhimes; The laurels he pretended did refuse, And dafh'd the hopes of his aspiring muse. This headstrong writer falling from on high, Made following authors take less liberty.

130 Waller came laft, but was the first whose art Just weight and measure did to verse impart; That of a well-plac'd word could teach the force, And shew'd for poetry a nobler course: His happy genius did our tongue refine, And easy words with pleasing numbers join: His verses to good method did apply, And chang'd hard discord to soft harmony. All own'd his laws; which, long approv'd and try'd, To present authors now may be a guide. Tread boldly in his steps, secure from fear, And be, like him, in your expressions clear. If in your verse you drag, and sense delay, My patience tires, my fancy goes aftray; And from your vain discourse I turn my mind, Nor search an author troublesome to find. There is a kind of writer pleas'd with sound, Whose fustian head with clouds is compass'd round, No reason can disperse them with its light: Learn then to think ere you pretend to write. As your idea's clear, or else obscure, The expression follows perfe&t or impure:

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