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FROM THE DUNCIAD
[THE COLLEGE OF DULNESS] Close to those walls where Folly holds her throne, And laughs to think Monroe would take her down, Where o'er the gates, by his famed father's hand, Great Cibber's brazen brainless brothers stand, One cell there is, concealed from vulgar eye, The cave of Poverty and Poetry. Keen, hollow winds howl through the bleak recess, Emblem of music caused by emptiness. Hence bards, like Proteus long in vain tied down, Escape in monsters, and amaze the town. Hence Miscellanies spring, the weekly boast Of Curll's chaste press and Lintot’s rubric post; Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines; Hence Journals, Medleys, Mercuries, Magazines, Sepulchral lies, our holy walls to grace, And New-year odes, and all the Grub Street race.
In clouded majesty here Dulness shone. Four guardian Virtues, round, support her throne: Fierce champion Fortitude, that knows no fears Of hisses, blows, or want, or loss of ears; Calm Temperance, whose blessings those partake Who hunger and who thirst for scribbling sake; Prudence, whose glass presents th' approaching jail; Poetic Justice, with her lifted scale, Where, in nice balance, truth with gold she weighs, And solid pudding against empty praise. Here she beholds the chaos dark and deep, Where nameless somethings in their causes sleep, Till genial Jacob or a warm third day Call forth each mass, a poem or a play: How hints, like spawn, scarce quick in embryo lie; How new-born nonsense first is taught to cry; Maggots, half formed, in rhyme exactly meet, And learn to crawl upon poetic feet. Here one poor word an hundred clenches makes, And ductile Dulness new meanders takes; There motley images her fancy strike, Figures ill paired, and similes unlike.
She sees a mob of metaphors advance,
All these and more the cloud-compelling queen
[CIBBER AS Dulness's FAVOURITE SON] In each she marks her image full expressed, But chief in Bays's monster-breeding breast; Bays, formed by nature stage and town to bless, And act, and be, a coxcomb with success. Dulness with transport eyes the lively dunce, Rememb’ring she herself was Pertness once. Now (shame to Fortune!) an ill run at play Blanked his bold visage, and a thin third day: Swearing and supperless the hero sate, Blasphemed his gods, the dice, and damned his fate; Then gnawed his pen, then dashed it on the ground, Sinking from thought to thought, a vast profound ! Plunged for his sense, but found no bottom there; Yet wrote and floundered on in mere despair. Round him much embryo, much abortion lay, Much future ode, and abdicated play; Nonsense precipitate, like running lead, That slipped through cracks and zigzags of the head; All that on Folly Frenzy could beget, Fruits of dull heat, and sooterkins of wit.
Next o'er his books his eyes began to roll,
[THE RESTORATION OF NIGHT AND CHAOS] In vain, in vain—the all-composing hour Resistless fallş: the Muse obeys the power. She comes ! she comes! the sable throne behold Of Night primeval and of Chaos old! Before her, Fancy's gilded clouds decay, And all its varying rainbows die away. Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires, The meteor drops, and in a flash expires. As one by one, at dread Medea's strain, The sickening stars fade off th' ethereal plain; As Argus' eyes, by Hermes' wand oppressed, Closed one by one to everlasting rest: Thus at her felt approach, and secret might, Art after art goes out, and all is night. See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled, Mountains of casuistry heaped o'er her head! Philosophy, that leaned on Heaven before, Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more. Physic of Metaphysic begs defence, And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense! See Mystery to Mathematics fly! In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die. Religion blushing veils her sacred fires, And unawares Morality expires. Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine; Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine! Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored; Light dies before thy uncreating word: Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall; And universal darkness buries all.
TO THE NIGHTINGALE
Exert thy voice, sweet harbinger of Spring!
This moment is thy time to sing,
This moment I attend to praise, And set my numbers to thy lays.
Free as thine shall be my song;
As thy music, short, or long. Poets, wild as thee, were born,
Pleasing best when unconfined,
When to please is least designed, Soothing but their cares to rest;
Cares do still their thoughts molest,
And still th’ unhappy poet's breast,
Muse, thy promise now fulfil!
'Twill not be! then change thy note;
Let division shake thy throat.
Cease then, prithee, cease thy tune;
Trifler, wilt thou sing till June?
Thus we poets that have speech,
If a fluent vein be shown
That's transcendent to our own,
A NOCTURNAL REVERIE In such a night, when every louder wind Is to its distant cavern safe confined, And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings, And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings; Or from some tree, famed for the owl's delight, She hollowing clear, directs the wanderer right; In such a night, when passing clouds give place, Or thinly veil the heaven's mysterious face; When in some river, overhung with green, The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen; When freshened grass now bears itself upright, And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite, Whence springs the woodbine and the bramble-rose, And where the sleepy cowslip sheltered grows; Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes, Yet chequers still with red the dusky brakes ; When scattered glow-worms, but in twilight fine, Show trivial beauties watch their hour to shine, Whilst Salisbury stands the test of every light In perfect charms and perfect virtue bright; When odours which declined repelling day Through temperate air uninterrupted stray: When darkened groves their softest shadows wear, And falling waters we distinctly hear; When through the gloom more venerable shows Some ancient fabric, awful in repose, While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale; When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads, Comes slowly grazing through th' adjoining meads, Whose stealing pace, and lengthened shade we fear, Till torn up forage in his teeth we hear; When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food, And unmolested kine re-chew the cud; When curlews cry beneath the village-walls, And to her straggling brood the partridge calls; Their shortlived jubilee the creatures keep, Which but endures whilst tyrant-man does sleep; When a sedate content the spirit feels, And no fierce light disturb, whilst it reveals;