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Thomas Parnell

(1679 - 1718 / Ireland)

Satyr I. A Letter To A Friend. On Poets.


Poets are bound by ye severest rules,
the great ones must be mad, ye little all are fools,
thus wn. I rime 'tis at my own expence,
to please my friend, I drop my claim to sence.
but now ye greater sway wch custome bears,
to forfeit souls in oaths, or sence in verse?
the using of an ill has so much power,
stamp it a fashion, & its ill no more.
since then ye humour so extremely reigns,
that ye gay folly every brest unbends,
let me beneath ye common shadow hide
the fault's not mine thats all ye worlds beside.
say then if passion, discontent, or ease
sho'd e're your friend wth poetry possess,
for these, and want, ye muses setters seeme,
to draw in cullies to their loosing game,
how may I know yepath I ought to tread,
for 'tis in all mens natures to succeed
some one way more than any else beside.
fancy the reigning planet of yer. mind
guides poets, & like her they're unconfin'd;
a bounded genius will attempt to prove,
the stings of satyr, & ye flames of love,
Jear folly, virtue by example praise,
& move our passions & or. language raise
happy one way but one he'l scorn to chuse
so much or. wilder hopes our parts abuse.
Durfy more luckily employs his quill
weak as he is he knows his talent still.
Wn C---r taught how plays debaucht ye age
he left to V---ke to defend the stage,
in rufull ballad humbly pleas'd to rage.
how great & undisturb'd by censuring foes
might eithers fame beneath thier wreaths repose
had B---l nere written verse nor C---ve prose.
B---r in Epicks may be still inspir'd,
by men of sence approv'd by all ye rest admir'd
let him of Williams thickned lawrells sing
while for himself from every page they spring
& that shall crowne ye poet wch adorns ye King
but nere to tread in scandalls rougher ways
again depart ye peacefull realms of praise.
we read his satyr & his wit allow,
we read & own the blended malice too.
but oft his muse shows an unpointed tooth
Wn. a just turn of verse don't raise ye illnaturd truth
low puns for wit his lines do often fill
& oft he rambles in too loose a stile;
the biting satyr fights in closer file.
laborious T---te has many methods try'd,
to know wt. happy way he may succeed,
A play or two employ'd his hopes at first,
far from ye best, a little from ye worst,
then bits of foreign poets to or. tongue,
more happily he brought, more sweetly sung,
flush'd with success, he rises up from hence,
to rescue David at his own expence.
so have I known some painters wn. a face
in spight of all their touches wants to please
turn up its eys & alter all its dress
the auction piece a flowing glory wears,
& where the syren fail'd; ye saint appears.
Now I, who proudly authors thus arraign,
am, may be, envious thought, & may be vain,
but if my lines can gain one friends esteem,
or my diversion be, 'tis all my aim,
I never bid perhaps nere shall for fame.
Nay sho'd I find my censures too severe,
Ide in my changing prove my temper fair,
and see with joy an error disappear;
let Dennis rules for writing well lay downe,
believe wt he prescribes his play has done,
a preface write to shew he dos not faile,
Till Hypers to himself ye fop reveale.

Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010

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