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Whilom, what time, eftoons and erst,
(So prose is oftentimes beverst)
Sprinkled with quaint fantastic phrase,
Uncouth to ears of modern days,
Make up the metre, which they call
Blank, CLASSICK BLANK, their All in All.
Can only blank admit sublime ?
Go, read and measure Dryden's rhyme.
Admire the magic of his song,
See how his numbers roll along,
With ease and strength and varied pause,
Nor cramp'd by found, nor metre's laws.
Is harmony the gift of rhyme ?
Read, if you can, your Milton's chime;
Where taste, not wantonly severe,
May find the measure, not the ear.
As rhyme, rich rhyme, was Dryren's choice, And blank has Milton's nobler voice, I deem it as the subjects lead, That either measure will succeed. That rhyme will readily admit Of fancy, numbers, force and wit; Vol. II. H
But tho' each couplet has its strength,
It palls in works of epic length.
For who can bear to read or hear,
Tho' not offensive to the ear,
The mighty BLACKMORE gravely fing
Of ARTHUR PRINCE, and ARTHUR KING,
Heroic poems without number,
Long, lifeless, leaden, lulling lumber;
Nor pity such laborious toil,
And loss of midnight time and oil ?
Yet glibly runs each jingling line,
Smoother, perhaps, than yours or mine,
But still, (tho' peace be to the dead,)
The dull, dull poems weigh down lead.
So have I seen upon the road,
A waggon of a mountain's load, ,
Broad-wheeld, and drawn by horses eight,
Pair'd like great folks who strut in ftate:
While the gay steeds, as proud as strong,
Drag the flow tottering weight along,
Each as the steep afcent he climbs,
Moves to his bells, and walks in chimes.
The Muses dwelt on Ovid's tongue,
For Ovid never faid, but sung,
And Pope (for Pope affects the same)
In numbers lifp'd, for numbers came.
Thus, in historic page I've read
Of some queen's daughter, fairy-bred,
Who could not either cough or fpit,
Without some precious flow of wit,
While her fair lips were as a spout,
To tumble pearls and diamonds out.
Yet, tho' dame nature may bestow
This knack of verse, and jingling flow :
(And thousands have that impulse felt,
With whom the Muses never dwelt)
Tho' it may save the lab’ring brain
From many a thought-perplexing pain,
And while the rhyme presents itself,
Leaves BYSSHE untouch'd upon the shelf;
Yet more demands the critic ear,
Than the two catch-words in the rear,
Which stand like watchmen in the clore,
To keep the verfe from being prose.
But when reflexion has refin'd
This boist'rous bias of the mind,
When harmony enriches sense,
And borrows stronger charms from thence,
When genius steers by judgment's laws,
When proper cadence, varied pause
Shew nature's strength combin'd with art,
And thro' the ear pofless the heart;
Then numbers come, and all before
Is bab, dab, fcab-mere rhymes-no more.
Some boast, which none could e'er impart,
A secret principle of art,
Which gives a melody to rhyme
Unknown to Bards in antient time.
And BOILEAU leaves it as a rule
To all who enter PHOEBUS' school,
To make the metre strong and fine,
Poets write first your second line.
'Tis folly all — No poet flows
In tuneful verse, who thinks in prose;
And all the mighty secret here
Lies in the niceness of the ear.
E'en in this measure, when the muse,
With genuine ease, her way pursues,
Tho' she affect to hide her skill,
And walks the town in deshabille,
Something peculiar will be seen
Of air, or grace, in shape or mien,
Which will, tho' carelesly display'd,
Distinguish MADAM from her maid.
Here, by the way of critic sample,
I give the precept and example.
Four feet, you know, in ev'ry line
Is Prior's measure, and is mine;
Yet Taste wou'd ne'er forgive the crime
To talk of mine with PRIOR’s rhyme.
Yet, take it on a Poet's word,
There are who foolishly have err’d,
And marr'd their proper reputation,
By sticking close to imitation.
A double rhyme is often fought
At ftrange expence of time and thought ;
And tho' sometimes a lucky hit
May give a zeft to Butler's wit;
Whatever makes the measure halt
Is beauty seldom, oft a fault.
For when we see the wit and pains,
The twisting of the stubborn brains,
To cramp the sense within the bound
Of some queer double treble sound.