Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DISSECTION OF A BEAU'S HEAD, by JOHN BYROM



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DISSECTION OF A BEAU'S HEAD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: We found by our glasses, that what at first sight
Last Line: We'll reserve the coquette for another occasion.
Subject(s): Heads; Reason; Intellect; Rationalism; Brain; Mind; Intellectuals


WE found by our glasses, that what at first sight
Appear'd to be brains was another thing quite;
A heap of strange stuff fill'd the holes of his skull,
Which perhaps serv'd the owner as well to the full.
And as Homer acquaints us, (who certainly knew)
That the blood of the Gods was not real and true,
Only something that had a resemblance thereto,
Some such likeness to brain has the brain of a Beau.

The Pineal Gland, where the soul's residence is,
Smelt desp'rately strong of perfumes and essences;
With a bright horny substance encompass'd around,
That in numberless forms, like a diamond, was ground;
Insomuch that the spirit, if any was there,
Must have kept pretty constant within its own sphere,
Having bus'ness enough, without seeking new traces,
To employ all its time with its own pretty faces.

In the head's hinder part there was Brussels and Mechlin
With ribands, and fringes, and such kind of tackling;
Billet-doux, and soft rhymes lin'd the whole cerebellum,
Op'ra songs, and prick'd dances, as 'twere upon vellum;
A brown kind of lump, that we ventur'd to squeeze,
Dispers'd in plain Spanish, and made us all sneeze.
In short, many more of the like kind of fancies
Too tedious to tell, fill'd up other vacancies.

On the sides of this head were in several purses
On the right, sighs and vows; on the left, oaths and curses;
These each sent a duct to the root of the tongue,
From whence to the tip they went jointly along.
One particular place was observed to shine
With all sorts of colours most wond'rously fine;
But when we came nearer to view it, in troth,
Upon examination 'twas nothing but froth.

A pretty large vessel did plainly appear
In that part of the skull 'twixt the tongue and the ear,
With a spongy contrivance defended it was,
Which the French virtuosos call galimathias;
We Englishmen, nonsense; a matter indeed
That most people's heads are apt sometimes to breed;
Not one head free from it entirely in twenty,
But a beau's, 'tis presum'd, always has it in plenty.

Mighty hard, thick, and tough was the skin of his front,
And what is more strange, not a blood vessel on't;
From whence we concluded, the party deceas'd
Was never much troubled with blushing at least.
The Os cribriforme as full as could stuff
Was cramm'd, and in some places damag'd with snuff:
For beaus with this ballast keep stuffing their crib,
To preserve their light heads in a true equilib.

That muscle, we found, was exceedingly plain,
Which helps a man's nose to express his disdain,
If you chance to displease him, or make a demand,
Which is oft the beau's case, "that he don't understand!"
The reader well knows 'tis about this same muscle
That the old Latin poets all make such a bustle,
When they paint a man giving his noddle a toss,
And cocking his nose like a Rhinoceros.

Looking into the eye, where the musculi lay,
Which are called amatorii, that is to say,
Those muscles, in English, wherewith a man ogles,
When on a fair lady he fixes his goggles,
We found them much worn; but that call'd th' elevator,
Which lifts the eyes up tow'rds the summit of nature,
Seem'd so little us'd, that the beau, I dare say,
Never dazzl'd his eyes much with looking that way.

The outside of this head, for its shape and its figure,
Was like other heads, neither lesser nor bigger.
Its owner, as we were inform'd, when alive
Had pass'd for a man of about thirty-five.
He ate and he drank, just like one of the crowd:
For the rest,—he dress'd finely, laugh'd often, talk'd loud,
In his way he had talents, sometimes at a ball
The beau shew'd his parts and outcaper'd 'em all.

Some ladies, they say, took the beau for a wit,
But, truly, there lay in his head not a bit.
He was cut off, alas! in the flow'r of his age
By an eminent cit, that was put in a rage:
The beau was, it seems, complimenting his wife,
When excessive civility cost him his life;
For his eminence took up an old paring shovel,
And on the hard ground left my gem'man to grovel.

Having finish'd our work, we began to replace
The brain, such as 'twas, in its own proper case.
In a fine piece of scarlet we laid it in state,
And resolv'd to prepare so extraordinary a pate;
Which would eas'ly be done, our anatomist thought,
Having found many tubes, that already were fraught
With a kind of a substance he took for Mercurial,
Lodg'd there, he suppos'd, long before the beau's burial.

The head laid aside, then he took up the heart,
Which he likewise laid open with very great art,
And with many particulars truly we met,
That gave us great insight into the coquette:
But having, kind reader, already transgress'd
Too much on your patience, we'll let the heart rest;
Having giv'n you the beau for to-day's speculation,
We'll reserve the coquette for another occasion.





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