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Show'd heavenly pencilling! What time
Genius, the wood nymph, in her prime
Of bloom and spirit, pass'd along;
Light of heart and frank of song ;
Vagrant, on a sweet zephyr's wing,
Plundering the magazines of spring;
Vermil tints and perfumed air
Gathering here and scattering there!
Her the thought-wrapt being spied
Glancing comely by his side;
And, with sudden passion fired,
Follow'd still as she retired :
Soon won with ardent vows her mind,
And in meet espousal join'd,
In happiest hour the bride embraced !-
Hence the auspicious birth of Taste!
Come! decent nymph! in ample vest
Of seemly suited colours dress'd!-
Come thou, Taste! and bring with thee
The maiden, meek Simplicity!-
Come! and give mine eye to stray,
Where thou deignest to display
Thy dædal power, such grace to teach,
As Nature loves, but cannot reach!
Let us oft our visit pay (In the pure matin prime of day, Ere the high sun hath drunk the dews) To where the poet courts the Muse! Him, I mean, who bows the knee, In homage still submits to thee! Whom thy steady rule hath taught To form the plan and point the thought ; To passion all its voice to give, And bid the warm description live!
Him who ne'er in evil hour,
Mistaking strong desire for power,
Couples ideas vague and rude,
Match'd without similitude!
Where, wedged in heterogeneous rank,
Tall metaphors each other flank;
And seem in such confusion set
As if they wonder'd how they met:
Or under a huge pile of phrase,
Which idly grouped figures raise
With blank and alien epithets,
The dull drudge, Affectation, sweats!
Nor let my foot the spot forbear,
Where Judgment takes the critic chair ;
Commanding at her side to stand,
Candour and Spirit, hand in hand ;
Bidding mine eye some canvass trace,
Where the bold outline's soften'd grace,
Expression rich, and chaste design
With delicate neglect combine ;
Till rapt attention, fairly caught,
Fill me with all the painter's thought!
Haply, some rising dome shall claim
My glad observance; where the dame
Propriety, throughout presiding,
Plan, measure, execution guiding,
Blends neat convenience with expense,
Proportion with magnificence:
While Attic elegance and ease
Help Roman grandeur more to please ;
And Roman grandeur doth advance
The Attic ease and elegance!
My soul, meanwhile, with rapture ranging
O’er parts in aptest order changing,
Sees every art of every coast
Become my country's gradual boast.
Or if domestic objects wake
Mine inclination, let me take
Beside the family hearth my stand,
Where Goodnature, blithe and bland,
Calls, with more than magic force,
Every Grace and Joy of course ;
Speeding the buxom hours along
With converse sweet, free jest, prompt song;
Teaching each excellence to find
The inmost bosom, where inshrined
Sits chaste Decorum, holding still
In bands of silk the truant will;
While Mirth and Virtue walk at ease,
Prone to be pleased, and glad to please,
Sometimes wandering, let me meet, Seldom found, the blissful seat, Where Discretion, mildly sage, Watches o'er the rising age; Warning still the parent's care To snatch from Folly’s gripe his heir ; Lessoning the virgin ears of youth In that most glorious science-TruthTruth of thought,—due praise to give ! Truth of heart,—to act and live! Or training for the public scene The social consciousness serene; Which founds (unduped by popular names) On general duties private claims, And general claims, where'er they rise, By private duty's standard tries; Convinced that, in dominion's scale Whatever civil plans prevail,
The Almighty word, which form'd this ball,
Made man for man, and all for all.
Taste!—if with me thou deign to dwell,
Let signs like these thy influence tell;
Mode, whim, expense, and awkward pain
Usurp thy semblance all in vain ;
Invention with proportion join’d,
Ardour corrected, strength refined
Announce (in spite of proud pretence)
The child of Genius and of Sense!
O THOU! to whom these lines belong,
Inspirer of the languid song,
In apathy my senses steep,
Or lull them in the arms of sleep;
Deaden each active power of soul;
Reflection's deep felt pangs control;
Quench Fancy's beam-Enough to know
Our present state, or joy or woe.
For ills to come as yet are not ;
Those past are nothing if forgot,
This state, by Dulness realized,
Is to be envied, not despised.
If ills the thinking mind annoy,
Stupidity is surely joy.
Of calm Indifference possess’d,
And by unfeeling Folly bless'd,
Her son, unmoved, with tearless' eye,
Beholds a friend or mistress die :
Unmoved by the wild shrieks of pain;
Unmoved by want's imploring train;
Unmoved he views the widow's tears;
Unmoved the orphan's cry he hears.
On evils past, or those to come,
Disease, or Death's impending doom,
The dull ne'er muse, but wear away
In thoughtless ease life's transient day.
Should o’er their head Affliction lour,
And all its stores of sorrow pour,
Insensible they still remain-
Kind Dulness blunts the shafts of pain:
And gross Stupidity supplies
Those aids Philosophy denies.
But men who of their reason boast,
In idle speculation lost,
Who vainly plume themselves as wise,
With others' evils sympathize.
Their own misfortunes rend their heart
With keenest pangs and torturing smart.
They shudder at ideal ills;
And causeless care their bosom fills.
Does Mirth, at some auspicious hour,
O'er their sad breasts exert its power,
Reflection soon their joy controls,
And Melancholy sways their souls.
For Pleasures, when we analyze
And hold them forth to Reason's eyes,
A test so strong they cannot bear,
But melt like vapours into air.
Thus tricks display'd by juggler's sleight
No longer than they cheat delight.
O Queen of those who never think, With poppies pluck'd from Lethe's brink Be thy votary's temples crown's, While sombrous vapours float around !