Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VERSES: IN PRAISE OF SACRED POESY, by JOHN BYROM

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

VERSES: IN PRAISE OF SACRED POESY, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Of all companions that a man can choose
Last Line: "love one another, and remember mel."
Subject(s): Praise

OF all companions that a man can choose,
Methinks the sweetest is an honest muse;
Ready with subject proper, in due time,
To cheer the soul with harmony of rhyme;
Of all the muses, for they tell of nine,
Melpomene, sweet flowing Mel. be mine.

Here is the friendly and judicious part
To clear the head, to animate the heart;
Their kindred forces, temp'ring, to unite;
Grave to instruct, and witty to delight:
With judgment cool, with passions rightly warm,
She gives to numbers all their strength and charm.

Her lines, whatever the occasion be,
Flow without forcing, natural and free;
No stiff'ning of them with poetic starch,
Whether her bard is to be grave or arch;
Of various topics which the times produce
She prompts the fittest for the present use.

On piety when called to attend,
Well pleas'd she decks her sacred, best lov'd friend;
Religion, virtue, morals, and good sense
Deck'd with a grace, she arms with a defence:
Whatever tends to benefit the mind
Sets Mel. to work, true friend of human kind.

A foe she is,—but void of rancour,—foe
To all the noisy bustlings here below,
To all contention, clamour, or debate,
That plagues a constitution, church, or state,
That plagues a man's own self, or makes him will
His other self,—his neighbour,—any ill.

Life, as Mel. thinks, a short, uncertain lease,
Demands the fruits of friendship and of peace;
"Arms and the man" her sister Clio sings,
To her she leaves your heroes and your kings,
To sound the present, or to act the past,
To tread the stage in buskin and bombast.

With nymphs and swains fond Mel. would strew the fields,
With flocks and herds, instead of spears and shields;
Recall the scenes that blest a golden age,
Ere mutual love gave way to martial rage,
And bards high soaring above simpler phrase,
To genuine light preferr'd the artful blaze.

She scorns alike ignobly to rehearse
The spiteful satire, or the venal verse;
Free in her praise, and in her censure too,
True merit or amendment is her view;
A rising worth still higher to exalt,
Or save a culprit from a future fault.

No sour, pedantical, abusive rage,
No vicious rant defiles her freest page;
No sally vile, indecent, or profane,
To please low fools, or give the wise a pain;
Her mirth is aim'd to mend us, if we heed,
'Tis what the chastest of her sex may read.

She looks on various empires, various men,
As all one tribe, when she directs the pen;
She loves the Briton, and she loves the Gaul,
Swede, Russ, or Turk,—she wishes well to all;
They all are men, all sons of the same Sire,
And must be all belov'd, if Mel. inspire.

It would rejoice her votaries to see
All Europe, Asia, Africa agree.
"But the new world, new England's dire alarms!
"Should not Melpomene now sing to arms?"
No; she must ever wish all wars to cease;
While folks are fighting, she must hold her peace,

Content to hope that, what events are due
Will bless new England, and old England too:
She's to fair trade a friend, free navigation,
A friend to Spain, but foe to depredation;
And friend to France, but let heroic Clio
Demolish French encroachments at Ohio.

Safe from all foreign and domestic foes
Be all your liberties in verse or prose!
Be safe abroad your colonies and trade,
From Guarda-costas and from Gasconade!
At home your lives, your acres, and your bags!
May plots against you vanish into rags!

Be it observ'd in my concluding line,
Great part of safety rests with you;—in fine,
Home, or abroad, the world is but a school,
Where all things roll to teach one central rule;
That is, "If you would prosper and do well,
"Love one another, and remember Mel."

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