1731 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

Isaac Thompson, in "An Essay on Poetry" Thompson, Collection of Poems (1731) 149-50.



Of all ill Writers, by the Critics curst,
Bad Poets are undoubtedly the worst;
Who, in the Spite of Genius, strive to chime
In Strains as poor and lean as Pharoah's Kine.
But those, whose Fortune, better Stars proclaim,
Who feel the Touches of celestial Flame,
By whom the Soul is lifted and refin'd,
They merit loud applause from all Mankind.

But while with vain Desire vast Numbers stray,
Few find the happy Genius of the Way;
Such as of old was known the sacred Road,
Where HOMER travel'd, and where VIRGIL trod:
And such as since, in later Times was known,
To lead a MILTON and an ADDISON.
Whose strains Divine, far future Sons shall fire,
And thousand Ages yet to come, admire.
You, who would learn to imitate their Lays,
Hear kindly, what my friendly Muse essays,
Tho' she on slender Wings, attempts to rise,
And diffident, revolves her enterprize.