Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LESSER EPISTLES: TO BERNARD LINTOTT, by JOHN GAY



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LESSER EPISTLES: TO BERNARD LINTOTT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: As when some skilful cook, to please each guest
Last Line: And tonson yield to lintott's lofty name.
Subject(s): Books; Lintot, Barnaby Bernard (1675-1736); Reading


As when some skilful cook, to please each guest,
Would in one mixture comprehend a feast,
With due proportion and judicious care
He fills each dish with diff'rent sorts of fare,
Fishes and fowl deliciously unite,
To feast at once the taste, the smell, and sight.
So, Bernard, must a miscellany be
Compounded of all kinds of poetry;
The muses O'lio, which all tastes may fit,
And treat each reader with his darling wit.
Wouldst thou for miscellanies raise thy fame;
And bravely rival Jacob's mighty name,
Let all the muses in the piece conspire,
The lyrick bard must strike th' harmonious lyre;
Heroick strains must here and there be found,
And nervous sense be sung in lofty sound;
Let elegy in moving numbers flow,
And fill some pages with melodious woe;
Let not your am'rous songs too num'rous prove,
Nor glut thy reader with abundant love;
Satyr must interfere, whose pointed rage
May lash the madness of a vicious age;
Satyr, the muse that never fails to hit,
For if there's scandal, to be sure there 's wit.
Tire not our patience with pindarick lays,
Those swell the piece, but very rarely please:
Let short-breath'd epigram its force confine,
And strike at follies in a single line.
Translations should throughout the work be sown,
And Homer's godlike muse be made our own;
Horace in useful numbers should be sung,
And Virgil's thoughts adorn the British tongue;
Let Ovid tell Corinna's hard disdain,
And at her door in melting notes complain:
His tender accents pitying virgins move,
And charm the list'ning ear with tales of love.
Let ev'ry classick in the volume shine,
And each contribute to thy great design:
Through various subjects let the reader range,
And raise his fancy with a grateful change;
Variety 's the source of joy below,
From whence still fresh revolving pleasures flow.
In books and love, the mind one end pursues,
And only change th' expiring flame renews.
Where Buckingham will condescend to give,
That honour'd piece to distant times must live;
When noble Sheffield strikes the trembling strings,
The little loves rejoyce, and clap their wings,
Anacreon lives, they cry, th' harmonious swain
Retunes the lyre, and tries his wonted strain,
'Tis he, -- our lost Anacreon lives again.
But when th' illustrious poet soars above
The sportive revels of the god of love,
Like Maro's muse he takes a loftier flight,
And towres beyond the wond'ring Cupid's sight.
If thou wouldst have thy volume stand the test,
And of all others be reputed best,
Let Congreve teach the list'ning groves to mourn,
As when he wept o'er fair Pastora's urn.
Let Prior's muse with soft'ning accents move,
Soft as the strains of constant Emma's love:
Or let his fancy chuse some jovial theme,
As when he told Hans Carvel's jealous dream;
Prior th' admiring reader entertains,
With Chaucer's humour, and with Spencer's strains.
Waller in Granville lives; when Mira sings
With Waller's hand he strikes the sounding strings,
With sprightly turns his noble genius shines,
And manly sense adorns his easie lines.
On Addison's sweet lays attention waits,
And silence guards the place while he repeats;
His muse alike on ev'ry subject charms,
Whether she paints the god of love, or arms:
In him, pathetick Ovid sings again,
And Homer's Iliad shines in his Campaign.
Whenever Garth shall raise his sprightly song,
Sense flows in easie numbers from his tongue;
Great Phoebus in his learned son we see,
Alike in physick, as in poetry.
When Pope's harmonious muse with pleasure roves,
Amidst the plains, the murm'ring streams, and groves,
Attentive Eccho pleas'd to hear his songs,
Thro' the glad shade each warbling note prolongs;
His various numbers charm our ravish'd ears,
His steady judgment far out-shoots his years,
And early in the youth the God appears.
From these successful bards collect thy strains,
And praise with profit shall reward thy pains:
Then, while calves-leather binding bears the sway,
And sheep-skin to its sleeker gloss gives way;
While neat old Elzevir is reckon'd better
Than Pirate Hill's brown sheets, and scurvy letter;
While print-admirers careful Aldus chuse
Before John Morphew, or the weekly news:
So long shall live thy praise in books of fame,
And Tonson yield to Lintott's lofty name.





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