A Collection of English Poems, 1660-1800

By Ronald S. Crane | Go to book overview

JOHN GAY

(1685-1708-1732)

On a Miscellany of Poems to Bernard Lintott1

AS WHEN some skilful cook, to please each guest,
Would in one mixture comprehend a feast,
With due proportion and judicious care
He fills each dish with diff'rent sorts of fare,

Fishes and fowl deliciously unite, 5
To feast at once the taste, the smell, and sight.

So, Bernard, must a miscellany be
Compounded of all kinds of poetry;
The muses O'lio, which all tastes may fit,

And treat each reader with his darling wit. 10

Wouldst thou for miscellanies raise thy fame; And bravely rival Jacob's mighty name,
Let all the muses in the piece conspire,
The lyrick bard must strike th' harmonious lyre;

Heroick strains must here and there be found, 15
And nervous sense be sung in lofty sound;
Let elegy in moving numbers flow,
And fill some pages with melodious woe;
Let not your am'rous songs too num'rous prove,
Nor glut thy reader with abundant love; 20
Satyr must interfere, whose pointed rage
May lash the madness of a vicious age;
Satyr, the muse that never fails to hit,
For if there's scandal, to be sure there's wit.
Tire not our patience with pindarick lays, 25
Those swell the piece, but very rarely please:
Let short-breath'd epigram its force confine,
And strike at follies in a single line.
Translations should throughout the work be sown,
And Homer's godlike muse be made our own; 30

Horace in useful numbers should be sung,
And Virgils' thoughts adorn the British tongue;
Let Ovid tell Corinna's hard disdain,
And at her door in melting notes complain;
His tender accents pitying virgins move, 35
And charm the list'ning ear with tales of love.

____________________
1
Published in Miscellaneous Poems and Translations, 1712. Text of third edi-
tion, 1720.

-341-

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