1729 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dennis

Thomas Cooke, in "The Battle of the Poets" Tales, Epistles, Odes, Fables (1729) 136-38.



Dennis, whose Veins with youthful Vigour flow,
Firm as an Oak beneath the Weight of Snow,
True Foe to Foe, of modern Bards the Dread,
Who spurious Wit has oft' in Triumph led,
Rears, as Apollo and the Nine inspire,
With Hands tremendous, the vindictive Fire.
Dauntless he ranges o'er the hostile Ground;
And of the slumbring Chiefs the Labours round
He views, and seizes in th' unguarded Hour
From each an Off'ring to th' offended Powr.
From Pope he bears no slender Sacrifice;
In flaming Rolls Volumes on Volumes rise:
With the mar'd Greecian Storys feed the Flame
Thy Praise Cecilia, and thy Temple Fame.
Light mounts, impartial Doom! the maukish Lay,
Where Sylphs preside, and Belles at Ombre play;
Where well bred Lords and softest Bosoms rage;
And Clenches and Conundrums croud the Page.
Not less severe the Fate of that dull Strain
Where for the Critic's Wreath he strives in vain,
Of Knowledge barren, much affects to know,
While like the Severn rough his Numbers flow.
Ye Nymphs of Drury mourn the Labour fir'd
Which Envy and some Succubus inspir'd;
Chetwood for you was with the Jordan crown'd,
Whose Semicircle's like a watry Round:
Perish the Verse of Spleen, th' abusive Song,
Where Malice weakly jumbles Right and Wrong.

[This Gentleman, since dead, had the Mortification to survive most of his Writings; yet he long lived the Terror of modern Poets. He is introduced here as a Machine in the Hands of Apollo, as an Executioner of the Sentence supposed to be passed by Apollo and the Muses. 1740. — Cooke, Original Works (1742) 201n.]