Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CENTAUR FABULOUS, by JOHN BYROM



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THE CENTAUR FABULOUS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Zeuxis of old a female centaur drew
Last Line: "they say, ""the centaur is a fable still."
Subject(s): Centaurs; Fables; Allegories


ZEUXIS of old a female Centaur drew
To shew his art, and then expos'd to view;
The human half with so exact a care
Was join'd to limbs of a Thessalian mare,
That seeing from a diff'rent point the piece,
Some prais'd the Maid, and some the Mare, of Greece.

Like to this Centaur, by his own relation,
Is Doctor Warburton's Divine Legation;
Which superficial writers on each hand,—
Christians and Deists,—did not understand,
Because they both observ'd from partial views
Th' incorporated Church and State of Jews.

Th' ingenious artist took the pains to draw,
Full and entire, the compound of the law,
The two societies,—the civil kind
And the religious,—perfectly combin'd,
With God Almighty as a temp'ral prince
To govern both, as all his proofs evince,

Without the doctrine of a future state.—
Here with opponents lies the main debate.
They cannot reconcile to serious thought
God's Church and State, with LIFE TO COME untaught;
With Law or Gospel cannot make to suit
Virgin of Sion sinking down to Brute.

Zeuxis the new, they argue, takes a pride
In shapes so incompatible allied;
And talks away as if he had pourtray'd
A real creature, mix'd of Mare and Maid.
All who deny th' existence of the pad;
He centaurizes into Fool and mad.

If one objected to a Maiden hoof,
"Why, 'tis an Animal,"—was all his proof;
If to an animal with human head,
"O! 'tis a beauteous woman"—Zeuxis said.
"What! Animal and Woman both at once?"
"Yes, that's essential to the whole, ye dunce!"

His primary and secondary sense,
Like Mare and Maid, support his fond pretence.
From joining spot he skips to each extreme,
Or strides to both, and guards the motley scheme;
Solving with like Centauriformal ease
Law, Prophets, Gospel, quoted as you please.

Thus both went on long labour'd volumes through:—
Now what must fair, impartial readers do?
Must they not grieve, if either of them treat
On Law, or Grace, with rudeness or with heat?
Allowing either Zeuxis wondrous skill,
They say, "The Centaur is a fable still."





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