1709 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Oldham

Isaac Watts, "Burning several Poems of Ovid, Martial, Oldham, Dryden, &c." Watts, Horae Lyricae (1709) 221-22.



I.
I judge the Muse of lewd Desire;
Her Sons to Darkness, and her Works to Fire.
In vain the Flatteries of their Wit
Now with a melting Strain, now with an heavenly Flight
Would tempt my Virtue to approve
Those gaudy Tinders of a lawless Love.
So Harlots dress: They can appear
Sweet, modest, cool, divinely Fair,
To charm a Cato's Eye; but all within
Stench, Impudence and Fire, and ugly raging Sin.

II.
Die, Flora, die in endless Shame,
Thou Prostitute of blackest Fame,
Stript of thy false Array.
Ovid and all ye wilder Pens
Of modern Lust, who gild our Scenes,
Poyson the Brittish Stage, and paint Damnation gay,
Attend your Mistress to the dead;
When Flora dies her Imps should wait upon her Shade.

III.
* Strephon of noble Blood and Mind,
(For ever shine his Name!)
As Death approach'd his Soul refin'd,
And gave his looser Sonnets to the Flame.
"Burn, burn, he cry'd with sacred Rage,
Hell is the due of every Page,
Hell be the Fate. (But O indulgent Heaven!
So vile the Muse, and yet the Man forgiv'n!)
Burn on, my Songs: For not the Silver Thames
Nor Tyber with his yellow Streams
In endless Currents rolling to the Main
Can e'er dilute the Poison, or wash out the Stain."
So Moses by Divine Command
Forbid the leprous House to stand,
When deep the fatal Spot was grown:
Break down the Timber and dig up the Stone.

* Earl of Rochester.