1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

Parnica, "A Poem, inscribed to the Memory of Mr. John Gay" American Apollo [Boston] 1 (1 June 1792) 244.



Those, who delight to trace the hero's course,
In battle victor, with unequal force;
Or bring the horrors of a bloody fight,
With all its solemn pomp before your sight,
To please mankind, alas! they strive in vain;
What is their pleasure, is another's pain.
All that they gain is just to see and hear
The widow's groan, the tender orphan's tear.
What lays can ever gain the world's applause,
If death and carnage darken every clause!

Mine be the muse, who softer lays can sing;
Such as the beauties of approaching spring;
Or one, who grants a single worthy lay,
To grace the mem'ry of the Poet — GAY.

Gay are thy works, nature has richly giv'n,
To you a bounty, both on earth and heav'n.
Pleas'd when I read, but much more pleas'd to find
Your fancy equal to your turn of mind.
The rural field did not escape your eye,
Nor could the shepherd from your presence fly.
Thy nymph did little think, your prying thought,
Would of her secret actions leave out nought.
Each wanton trick you copy'd, so that art
Was robb'd entirely of its common part.

O, may some muse, as yet to us unborn,
Shine forth resplendent as the sun of morn:
Then shall we find a poet like to GAY;
A genius fertile as the month of May.