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AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEND, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Why, true, thou say'st the fools at court denied
Last Line: And shelburne's fame through laughing valleys ring.
Subject(s): Friendship; Petty, William. 2d Earl Of Shelburne

WHY, true, thou say'st the fools at Court denied,
Growl vengeance, -- and then take the other side:
The unfed flatterer borrows satire's power,
As sweets unshelter'd run to vapid sour.
But thou, the counsel to my closest thought,
Beheld'st it ne'er in fulsome stanzas wrought.
The Muse I court ne'er fawn'd on venal souls,
Whom suppliants angle, and poor praise controls;
She, yet unskill'd in all but fancy's dream,
Sang to the woods, and Mira was her theme.
But when she sees a titled nothing stand
The ready cipher of a trembling land, --
Not of that simple kind that placed alone
Are useless, harmless things, and threaten none, --
But those which, join'd to figures, well express
A strengthen'd tribe that amplify distress,
Grow in proportion to their number great,
And help each other in the ranks of state; --
When this and more the pensive Muses see,
They leave the vales and willing nymphs to thee;
To Court on wings of agile anger speed,
And paint to freedom's sons each guileful deed.
Hence rascals teach the virtues they detest,
And fright base action from sin's wavering breast;
For though the knave may scorn the Muse's arts,
Her sting may haply pierce more timid hearts.
Some, though they wish it, are not steel'd enough,
Nor is each would-be villain conscience-proof.
And what, my friend, is left my song besides?
No school-day wealth that roll'd in silver tides,
No dreams of hope that won my early will,
Nor love, that pain'd in temporary thrill;
No gold to deck my pleasure-scorn'd abode,
No friend to whisper peace, -- to give me food; --
Poor to the World I'd yet not live in vain,
But show its lords their hearts, and my disdain.
Yet shall not Satire all my song engage
In indiscriminate and idle rage;
True praise, where Virtue prompts, shall gild each line,
And long -- if Vanity deceives not -- shine.
For though in harsher strains, the strains of woe,
And unadorn'd, my heart-felt murmurs flow,
Yet time shall be when this thine humbled friend
Shall to more lofty heights his notes extend.
A Man -- for other title were too poor --
Such as 'twere almost virtue to adore,
He shall the ill that loads my heart exhale,
As the sun vapours from the dew-press'd vale;
Himself uninjuring shall new warmth infuse,
And call to blossom every want-nipp'd Muse.
Then shall my grateful strains his ear rejoice,
His name harmonious thrill'd on Mira's voice;
Round the reviving bays new sweets shall spring,
And SHELBURNE'S fame through laughing valleys ring.

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