1761 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

Myles Cooper, "Verses written upon a Blank Leaf in a young Lady's Gay's Fables" Cooper, Poems on Several Occasions (1761) 149-50.



To please, and pleasing to amend us,
To mark our faults, and not offend us;
From vice the surest way of weaning;
In fable Gay hath couch'd his meaning;
And while the bard himself is mute,
We're told our foibles by a brute.
Are courts condemn'd? — we own 'tis hard;
But blame the brute, and not the bard.
Are ladies lash'd? — 'twas ne'er intended;
But brutes will talk, and who can mend it?

Thus, if to some victorious dame,
A lover longs to tell his flame,
Yet fears that in a point so tender,
His aukward Speeches may offend her;
'Tis best perhaps to watch his time,
And pop his passion into rhyme;
Which oft, you know, in our despite,
The jingling Heliconians write:
And how can mortals mend the matter,
If muses chaunt, or monkeys chatter?