Monday, December 20, 2010

To Mr. Congreve

As merchants whose sunk trade, and ebbing stocks
Fear every storm, and dread the lurking rocks,
Above her real worth their bark ensure,
Then carelss hug themselves, and sleep secure;
They hear of wrecks, and fear no inward pain,
But seeming losses bring a real gain.
So, would your smiles protect the fearful muse, The vulgar praise I would with scorn refuse.
By you approv'd, condemn'd by all beside,
I'd court my fate, and swell with careless pride.
Since novel treats our modern gusts persue,
I hop'd at least to please by something new.
The muse long sought the woods, and mossy caves,
Despis'd the seas, and fear'd the rowling waves,
The flowry meadows, and the whispering trees
Have oft been sung, and will hereafter please.
Cool shady grots, and gently rising hills,
And the soft murmurs of complaining rills,
In ancient verse describ'd their sweets convey,
And still succeeding bards repeat the grateful lay.
But the vast unseen mansions of the deep,
Where secret groves with liquid amber weep,
Where blushing sprigs of knotty coral spread
And gild the azure with a brighter red,
Were still untouch'd -
Beside the muse has no envenom'd rage,
No party-wars her innocence engage,
Nor partial falshoods stain the guilty page.
She loves no pompous sound, or lofty strain,
Or soars to sense obscure with awkward pain,
But would plain songs in artless verse contrive,
And humble modes only asks to dive.
Joys free, and undisturb'd, and endless loves
The Triton seeks, and ev'ry Nymph approves.
    But should the harmless pen have no regard,
Your name (like sacred spells that charm when
From blasting tongues secure the tender bard,
The beauteous Nymphs to your protection throng,
And beg, you would not scorn the humble song:
As Indian travellers wild beasts affright
By kindled fires, and skreen themselves with light.
So critick-wits, like other brutes of prey,
From a surrounding brightness slink away.
Men dare not censure (even when they ought)
If Virgil will approve what Maevious wrote.

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