Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE TRITON OF THE MINNOWS, by JAMES SMITH (1775-1839)



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THE TRITON OF THE MINNOWS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Why don't you strike out something new?
Last Line: "the triton of the minnows."
Subject(s): Fame; Goddesses & Gods; Hope; Mythology; Time; Writing & Writers; Reputation; Optimism


"WHY don't you strike out something new?"
Cried fair Euphemia, heavenly blue
Of eye, as well as stocking!
"If shilly-shally long you stand,
You'll feel Time's enervating hand
Your second cradle rocking."

"Ah, Madam! cease your bard to blame;
I view the pedestal of Fame,
But at its base I falter:
On every step, terrific, stand
A troop of Poets, pen in hand,
To scare me from her altar.

I first essayed to write in prose,
Plot, humor, character disclose,
And ransack heaths and hovels:
But, when I sat me down to write,
I sighed to find that I had quite
O'erlooked the Scottish Novels."

"Well," cried Euphemia, with a smile,
"Miss Austin's gone: assume her style;
Turn playmate of Apollo --
But, hold! how heedless the remark!
Miss Austin's gone -- but Mansfield Park
And Emma scorn to follow."

A bolder flight I'd fain essay,
The Manners of the East portray,
That field is rich and spacious:
Greece, Turkey, Egypt -- what a scope!
There too I'm foiled -- why will not Hope
Un-write his Anastasius!

Rogers, in calm and even sense,
Byron, in ecstacy intense,
Make my dim flame burn denser:
Shall I in Fashion's corps enlist,
A light gay epigrammatist?
No! -- there I'm marred by Spenser.

Thus "cribb'd and cabin'd" -- "Poor indeed!"
I cantered on my winged steed
Towards scenes of toil and tillage:
But there, alas! my weary hack
Hit on another beaten track,
Encountering Crabbe's Village.

Two pathways still to me belong,
Come, poignant Satire! amorous Song!
Beware, ye state empirics! --
Anticipated! hideous bore!
I quite forgot Hibernian Moore,
His Fudges, and his Lyrics.

Great Jove! compassionate my lot!
On Campbell, Byron, Moore, and Scott,
Point thy celestial cannon:
Sew Crabbe and Rogers in a sack.
Tie Hope and Spenser back to back,
And souse them in the Shannon.

So shall I, with majestic tread,
My doughty predecessors dead,
Up Pindus stretch my sinews:
And leave all lesser bards behind,
"The one-eyed monarch of the blind,"
"The Triton of the Minnows."





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