Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, REMARKS ON A PAMPHLET ENTITLED, EPISTLES TO THE GREAT, by JOHN BYROM



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REMARKS ON A PAMPHLET ENTITLED, EPISTLES TO THE GREAT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Doctor, this new poetic species
Last Line: The singy-songing euterpees.
Subject(s): Poetry & Poets; Rhyme


DOCTOR, this new poetic species
Semel may do, but never decies;
For a Chapelle, or a Chaulieu,
The new devis'd conceit may do;
In rambling rhymes La Farre, and Gresset,
And easy diction may express it;
Or Madam's Muse, Deshoulieres,
Improve it farther still than theirs:
But, in the name of all the Nine,
Will an epistolary line
In English verse and English sense
Admit, to give them both offence,
The Gaul-bred insipiditee
Of this new fangled melodee?
Indeed it won't; if Gallic phrase
Can bear with such enervate lays
Nor pleasure, nor pain-pinion'd hours
Can ever suffer them in ours;
Nor, ivy-crown'd, endure a theme
Silver'd with moonshine's maiden gleam:
Not tho' so garlanded and flow'ry,
So soft, so sweet, so Myrtle-bow'ry,
So balmy, palmy—and so on—
As is the theme here writ upon;
Writ in a species that, if taking,
Portends sad future verse-unmaking:—
BROWN'S "Estimate of times and manners,"
That paints effeminacy's banners,
Has not a proof in its detail
More plain than this, if this prevail.
Forbid it, sense! forbid it, rhyme!
Whether familiar or sublime,
Whether ye guide the poet's hand
To easy diction or to grand;
Forbid the Gallic namby-pamby
Here to repeat its crazy cramby.
One instance of such special stuff,
To see the way on't, is enough;
Excus'd for once;—if Aristippus
Has any more within his cippus,
Let him suppress,—or sing 'em he
With gentle Muse, sweet Euterpee;
Free to salute her while they chirp,
For easier rhyming—sweet Euterp.
It is allow'd that verse, to please,
Should move along with perfect ease;
But this coxcombically mingling
Of rhymes unrhyming, interjingling,
For numbers genuinely British,
Is quite too finical and skittish;
But for the masculiner belles,
And the polite Me'moiselles,
Whom Dryads, Naiads, Nymphs, and Fauns,
Meads, woods, and groves, and lakes, and lawns,
And loves, and doves,—and fifty more
Such jaded terms, besprinkled o'er
With compound epithets uncouth,
Prompt to pronounce them verse, forsooth!
Verse let them be;—tho' I suppose,
Some verse as well might have been prose,
That England's common courtesy
Politely calls good Poetry.
For if the Poetry be good,
Accent at least is understood.
Number of syllables alone
Without the proper stress of tone,
Will make our metre flat and bare
As Hebrew verse of Bishop Hare.
Add, that regard to Rhyme is gone,
And verse and prose will be all one,
Or,—what is worse,—create a pother
By species neither one nor t'other;
A case, which there is room to fear
From dupes of Aristippus here.
The fancied sage in feign'd retreat
Laughs at the follies of the great,
With wit, invention, fancy, humour,
Enough to gain the thing a rumour.
But if he writes, resolv'd to shine
In unconfin'd and motley line,
Let him Pindaric it away,
And quit the lazy-labour'd lay,
Leave to La Farre and to La France
The warbling, soothing nonchalance.
When will our bards unlearn at last
The puny style and the bombast?
Nor let the pitiful extremes
Disgrace the verse of English themes;
Matter no more in manner paint
Foppish, affected, queer, and quaint;
Nor bounce above Parnassian ground,
To drop the sense and catch the sound;
Except in writing for the stage,
Where sound is best for buskin'd rage;
Except in Operas, where sense
Is but superfluous expense?
Be then the bards of sounding pitch
Consign'd to Garrick and to Rich,
To Tweedledums and Tweedledees,
The singy-songing Euterpees.





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