Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN EPISTLE TO MY MUSE, by ROYALL TYLER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

AN EPISTLE TO MY MUSE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: They tell me, muse, that thou and I, sweet rogue
Last Line: (to be concluded.)
Alternate Author Name(s): Old Simon; S.
Subject(s): Actors & Actresses; Theater & Theaters

Or, a Postscript to the Epilogue to the Theatrical Season

THEY tell me, Muse, that thou and I, sweet rogue,
Have sadly miss'd it in our Epilogue.
Jack Dash pronounc'd it a most horrid bore;
The author's a mere quiz, Dick Dumpish swore;
And e'en Miss Phebe showed her sex's spite,
And "vowed the thing was vastly impolite."
But what, my Muse, should more surprise create,
Miss Prue declared it so indelicate,
So thick with double vile entendre strown,
It made her blush to read it when alone!
O DELICACY! blushing, timorous maid,
Of substance nought, of shadows oft afraid,
Who can't a sermon read without a qualm,
And find'st a double meaning in a psalm;
And whilest the poet's page thy heart alarms,
With cobweb muslin scarcely veils thy charms;
Pardon, sweet nude, and calm thy prudish flutter,
Just glance thy eyes on thy own tonish tucker:
Let Modesty pronounce, with judgment clear,
Who most offends her eye, or most her ear.

But zounds, what noise distracts my nerves of hearings!
What horrid cursing, damming, sinking, swearing!
It seems as if a thousand Jacks were braying,
Or if ten thousand*****'s were huzzaing.
"--- flat, ---- low, ---- stuff, ---- mean -- froth!
-------- -------- the poet and the printer both.
O Gad confound the odus rhyming fellur!
I hates him worser than the Moor Urthellur:
I promus him that I despise his drivel --
O he's the very emblum of the Divel."
This chasten'd language surely well explains
From whence proceed these Chesterfieldian strains:
Such brimstone tropes with certainty presage
That school of Virtue, our pure, moral stage.
For lo! the Green Room quakes with wild uproar,
Vindictive furies seize the Thespian Corps;
Melpomene her blood-stained dagger draws,
Prepares her poison'd bowl to drench my jaws;
The shingle dagger, Harlequin, is thine;
Vex'd Thalia dips her comick lash in brine;
And all the play-house gods prepare for fighting,
With sheepskin thunder and bright rosin lightning;
While *****'s voice, like London watchman's rattle,
Or light-horse conch shell, sounds the corps to battle;
And Ate fierce, in shape of Mrs. ****,
Cries Havock! and lets slip the pups of war.
But say, my Muse, what all this noise provokes,
Why dwells such mighty rage in little folks?
'T is our vile epilogue has caused this fury,
And raised this tumult in our Yankee Drury,
Some are enrag'd, their merits were not rais'd,
And others vex'd that rivals were beprais'd;
Some angry, that their slightest faults were scann'd;
And some d----d mad, because they were not dammn'd;
Some blame too liberal, some too scanty praise,
And all provok'd that ***** gain'd the bays;
All, all inflam'd, and all prepared to shed
The Thespian rancour on the poet's head --
Prepared to pour the vengeance of the stage,
With all the impotence of Green Room rage.
Come, come, sweet Muse, let's close this doughty quarrel!
Go, get thy critick specs, and bunch of laurel.
The Thespian ranks we will again display,
And drum the corps to one more muster-day!
No biting satire shall deform our lays
With bluff contempt or odious sneering praise:
From Flattery's beds we'll cull our rhyming posies,
Perfum'd with otto, wash'd with the milk of roses;
Our errours past we'll mend in this soft sequel,
And sooth their palates with our sweetest treacle.
With rosy cheeks and eyes of glassy blue,
And each pleas'd actor now shall gaily seem
A Christmas window, stuck with evergreen.
And see, my Muse, once more the mimick train,
All eager, panting, emulous of fame;
With sacred love of fame all, all infected --
They'd rather be lampoon'd than be neglected.
And first, my Muse, the dapper *** draws nigh,
The very Harlequin of tragedy;
That merry mourner with his giggling Oh!
That sneering, skipping, tripping type of woe;
That solemn droll, with tragicomick sneer;
That joking Numpo in the robes of Lear.
'T is his, when sorrow should becloud his face,
To vent his anguish in a broad grimace;
When grief should fill the anguish'd sufferer's eye,
To smartly wink a tear or snort a sigh:
And when the poniard strikes the hero's heart,
And the soul struggles from the flesh to part,
Like country bumpkin, (now it's time to die)
He scrapes his foot and bids the folks Good-bye!
In tragick attitude see ***** stand,
With melting eyes and elevated hand;
Some mighty sorrow labouring in her breast,
With frame convuls'd she heaves the burthen'd chest,
While limbs, air, features, all at once express
The scorpion anguish of her deep distress.

But whence proceeds, my Muse, her lengthen'd pause?
When will this statue ope her marble jaws?
For still she stands, in all her tragick pride,
Like tearful Niobe, quite petrified:
Say, what narcotick charm has seiz'd the maid?
Why, don't you see? -- she waits the prompter's aid!
Now -- now she bursts the deep impassion'd pause,
And tortures feeling with her -- Hems -- and -- Ha -- s.
But who is he, that hops upon the boards,
With voice, like mastiff, growling out his words?
Sure Nature's journeymen the fellow made
From mouldy scraps and offals of their trade!
With twin pretensions, Muse, he seeks thy praise,
And claims thy comick wreath and tragick bays.
What cobweb hopes vain-glorious folly spins!
I only wish the fellow's legs were twins --
For, while his right leg cuts the Thespian caper,
His left leg stands idle, calm spectator;
Or steel dividers, while one foot is fast,
The other round and round is nimbly cast;
Or novice actor, when he waits his cue,
Standing unmov'd, as if he'd nought to do.
If both legs move, poor ****** seems to go,
Like begging cripple, with a timber toe;
Or mismatch'd poneys, in a hackney racing,
With near nag trotting and the off one pacing.
But even ******'s praise the Muse will sing,
When he enacts of the Danish player king.
When, through the lips of Hamlet, Shakespeare sage,
With critick rules, corrects the erring stage,
When ****** shines -- his voice and action shew
The blundering actor, whom old Shakespeare drew:
See-saws the air, and swells, and struts, and brags,
And kicks and tears a passion into rags.

Sweet are the smiles which timid maids dispense,
Sweet the coy looks of bashful innocence;
But sweeter far the lovely actress seems,
Who veils with modesty the loosest scenes.
Whether in manly garb compell'd to appear,
Or forc'd to assume the meretricious leer,
Still female sanctity and worth are seen
To claim respect and chasten every scene.
Not so smart ***** meets the publick eye;
She scorns the aid of homespun modesty;
Thinks broad assurance is prodigious merit,
And gives to double meanings all their spirit;
Stares at the pit, and ogles rakes and beaux,
And sports her ankle gay with pick-nick hose;
And boldly says, as plain as looks can say,
"Come, look at -- I -- and never mind the play!"

Now, angry Muse, assume thy sternest frown,
And drive this worse than tippler from the town.
With those she favours let her seek her lot,
With rake-hell bully and vile dashing sot.
And, Muse, proclaim thy Mede-and-Persian law,
And let the Thespian corps attend with awe --
From time henceforth no player shall succeed
To publick favour, or obtain thy meed,
Who seeks by folly to obtain bare fame,
Or puts the cheek of modesty to shame.
(To be concluded.)

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