Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A PANEGYRIC ON THE REVEREND DEAN SWIFT, by JONATHAN SWIFT

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A PANEGYRIC ON THE REVEREND DEAN SWIFT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Could all we little folks that wait
Last Line: Resembling you as angels gods.

Could all we little folks that wait,
And dance attendance on the great,
Obtain such privilege as you,
To rail, and go unpunished too;
To treat our betters like our slaves,
And all mankind as fools, or knaves;
The pleasure of so large a grant
Would much compensate all we want.
Mitres, and glebes could scarce do more
To scratch our endless itch of power.
For next to being great ourselves
It is to think all great ones elves,
And when we can't be tete a tete,
Their fellows, turn their dread and hate.
How amply then does power provide
For you to gratify your pride?
Where'er the wind of favour sits,
It still your constitution hits.
If fair, it brings you safe to port,
And when 'tis foul, affords you sport.
A deanery you got, while in,
And now you're out, enjoy your grin.
But hark'ee, is it truly so,
(And you of all mankind should know)
That men of wit can be no more
Than pimps to wickedness in power?
Then pray, dear Doctor, condescend
To teach the science to your friend.
For long inured to musty rules,
And idle morals in the schools
My highest progress in the mystery
Is of short sessions a long history;
Lampoons on Whigs, when in disgrace;
Or vile submissions, when in place;
Poems addressed to great men's whores;
Or other lapdog cures for sores.
But formed more perfect gamester, you
The deepest tricks of courtiers knew.
Your Horace not content to quote,
You at a pinch could forge a plot;
The fatal box itself displayed,
Where Whigs their cursed trains had laid;
Nor ceased the faction to pursue,
Till you had got them in a screw.
Oh, wondrous box! my lyre unstrung
Shall be, when thou art left unsung;
More precious far than even the gift
Of our metropolis to Swift;
The gift (good heavens preserve't from thieves)
Of Lord Mayor, aldermen and shrieves,
Where, if the curious list to read 'em,
They'll find his life, and acts, and freedom,
And the great name engraved most fairly,
Of him that Ireland saved, and Harley;
With quaint inscription, which contains,
Laid out with no less art than pains,
Most of his virtues, all my brains.
No wonder you should think it little
To 'lick a rascal statesman's spittle',
Who have, to show your great devotion,
Oft swallowed down a stronger potion,
A composition more absurd,
Bob's spittle mixed with Harry's turd.
Oh, couldst thou teach us how to zest
Such draughts as this, and then digest,
Then we might also have in time
More beneficial ways than rhyme;
Refuse our patron's call to dine;
'Pish' at his cookery, damn his wine;
Assume a dignitary's airs,
And go to church, and say our prayers.
Rightly you show, that wit alone
Advances few, enriches none,
And 'tis as true, or story lies,
Men seldom by their good deeds rise:
From whence the consequence is plain,
You never had commenced a Dean,
Unless you other ways had trod
Than those of wit, or trust in God.
'Twas therefore cruel hard, by Jove,
Your industry no better throve,
Nor could achieve the promised lawn,
Though Robin's honour was in pawn;
Because it chanced, an old grave Don
Believed in God, and you in none.
Be this however your relief,
Whene'er your pride recalls your grief,
That all the loss your purse sustained
By that rebuff your virtue gained.
For must you not have often lied,
And grieved your righteous soul beside,
The Almighty's orders to perform,
Not to direct a plague, or storm,
But 'gainst the dictates of your mind,
To bless, as now you curse mankind?
You tell me, till my fortune's made,
I must take up the sweetening trade.
I own, the counsel were not wrong,
Did Congreve's wit inspire my song:
Or could my muse exert the rage
Of Addison's immortal page,
When rapt in heavenly airs, he sings
The acts of gods, and godlike kings.
But formed by you, how should their model
E'er enter any mortal's noddle?
Our thoughts, to hit your nicer taste,
Must in a different mould be cast;
The language Billingsgate excel,
The sentiments resemble hell.
Thus, should I give your humour place,
And draw like you my patron's face;
To pay him honour due, in course
I must compare him to a horse;
Then show, how statesmen oft are stung
By gnats, and draw the nation's dung,
The stinking load of all the crimes,
And nastiness of modern times,
Not only what themselves have shit,
For that were not unjust a bit,
But all the filth both spiss, and sparse
Of every rogue that wears an arse.
To add more dignity and light
To an allusion so polite,
The devil ready stands, my Swift,
To help our fancy at a lift;
Yet envy not, that I repeat
The damnable, the dear conceit.
'So when poor Irish rapparee,
Is sentenced to the fatal tree,
Or naughty boy escapes from school,
Or pretty miss has played the fool,
And cracked her tender maidenhead
With lying on too hard a bed;
Their loads they all on Satan lay:
The devil did the deed, not they!'
The simile would better jump,
Were you but placed on Satan's rump;
For if bestrode by you, old Nick
Himself could scarce forbear to kick,
And curse his wicked burden more
Than all the sins he ever bore.
Is this the art, good Doctor, say,
The true, the genuine sweetening lay?
Then must it truly be confessed;
Our ministers are void of taste,
When such adepts as you, and I
So long unbishopricked lie by,
While dunces of the coarsest clay,
That only know to preach and pray,
Devour the church's tiddest bits,
The perquisites of pimps and wits.
And leave us naught but guts and garbage,
Or dirty offals cooked with herbage.
No less than reasons of such weight,
Could make you so sincerely hate
Both kings and ministers of state.
For once there was a time, God wot,
Before our friends were gone to pot,
When Jonathan was great at court,
The ruined party made his sport,
Despised the beast with many heads,
And damned the mob, which now he leads.
But things are strangely changed since then,
And kings are now no more than men;
From whence 'tis plain, they quite have lost
God's image, which was once their boast.
For Gulliver divinely shows,
That humankind are all Yahoos.
Both envy then and malice must
Allow your hatred strictly just;
Since you alone of all the race,
Disclaim the human name, and face,
And with your virtues pant to wear
(May heaven indulgent hear your prayer!)
The proof of your high origin,
The horse's countenance divine.
While Grattan, Sheridan, and I,
Who after you adoring fly,
An humbler prospect only wait,
To be your asses' colts of state,
The angels of your awful nods,
Resembling you as angels gods.

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