Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ROMAE, PRINCIPIS URBIUM ..., by JOHN BYROM



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ROMAE, PRINCIPIS URBIUM ..., by             Poet's Biography
First Line: This is one ode, and much the best of two
Last Line: The nicer taste of liquid verse, who not.
Subject(s): Children; Horace (65-8 B.c.); Odes (As Poetic Form); Poetry & Poets; Childhood


THIS is one ode, and much the best of two,
Fam'd above all for Scaliger's ado.
"I rather would have writ so good a thing
"Than reign," quoth he, "an Arragonian king."
Had he been king, and master of the vote,
I doubt the monarch would have chang'd his note,
And loading verses with a huge renown,
Would still have kept his Arragonian crown.

This ode, howe'er, tho' short of such a rout,
He shew'd some judgment when he singled out,
Compar'd with others, one is at a stand
To think how those should come from the same hand.
For, if they did, 'tis marvellous enough
That such a muse, with such a breath, should puff;
That such a delicate, harmonious Muse
Should catch the clouds, or sink into the stews.

But fame has sold them to us in a lot,
And all is Horace, whether his or not.
For his or whose you will, then, let them pass,
What signifies it who the author was?
"Dunghill of Ennius," as we are told
By ancient proverb, "might afford some gold:"
And that's the case of what this Horace sung,
Some grains of gold, with tinsel mix'd, and dung.

We'll say this ode, allowing for the age
That Horace writ in, was a golden page;
The words well chosen, easy, free, and pat,
The lyric claim so manag'd—and all that—
What I would note is, that no critic yet,
Of them, I mean, whose notes my eyes have met,
Has seen a blemish in this finish'd piece,
Outdone, they say, by neither Rome nor Greece.

Yet there is one, which it is somewhat strange,
That none of them should see a cause to change,
But let a great indelicacy stand,
As if it came from Horace's own hand;
To the bands of Poets join'd AMABILES,
When, what he meant was lovely soboles.
Meo periculo, sirs, alter this,
If taste be in you, read amabilis.

If ye refuse, I have no more to say,
Keep to flat print, and read it your own way;
Let fear to change a vowel's rote dispense
With jingling sound, and unpoliter sense.
I don't expect that critics, with their skill,
Will take the hint,—but all true poets will.
Be it a test, at present, who has got
The nicer taste of liquid verse, who not.





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