Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE POET AND THE ALCHEMIST, by HORACE SMITH



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THE POET AND THE ALCHEMIST, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Authors of modern date are wealthy fellows
Last Line: "simply by liking what we have!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Horatio
Subject(s): Alchemy & Alchemists; Apollo; Mythology - Classical; Poetry & Poets


AUTHORS of modern date are wealthy fellows; --
'Tis but to snip his locks and follow
Now the golden-haired Apollo
Invoking Plutus to blow up the bellows
Of inspiration, they distil
The rhymes and novels which cajole us,
Not from the Heliconian rill,
But from the waters of Pactolus.

Before this golden age of writers,
A Grub-street Garreteer existed,
One of the regular inditers
Of odes and poems to be twisted
Into encomiastic verses,
For patrons who have heavy purses.
Besides the Bellman's rhymes, he had
Others to let both gay and sad,
All ticketed from A to Izzard;
And living by his wits, I need not add,
The rogue was lean as any lizard.

Like a rope-maker's were his ways,
For still one line upon another
He spun, and, like his hempen brother,
Kept going backwards all his days.

Hard by his attic lived a Chemist,
Or Alchemist, who had a mighty
Faith in the Elixir Vitae;
And though unflattered by the dimmest
Glimpses of success, kept groping
And grubbing in his dark vocation,
Stupidly hoping
To find the art of changing metals,
And guineas coin from pots and kettles,
By mystery of transmutation.

Our starving poet took occasion
To seek this conjuror's abode;
Not with encomiastic ode,
Or laudatory dedication,
But with an offer to impart,
For twenty pounds, the secret art,
Which should procure, without the pain
Of metals, chemistry, and fire,
What he so long had sought in vain,
And gratify his heart's desire.

The money paid, our bard was hurried
To the philosopher's sanctorum,
Who, somewhat sublimized and flurried
Out of his chemical decorum,
Crowed, capered, giggled, seemed to spurn his
Crucibles, retort, and furnace,
And cried as he secured the door,
And carefully put to the shutter,
"Now, now, the secret I implore;
For God's sake speak, discover, utter!"

With grave and solemn air the Poet
Cried -- "List -- oh, list! for thus I show it: --
Let this plain truth those ingrates strike,
Who still, though blessed, new blessings crave,
That we may all have what we like,
Simply by liking what we have!"





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