1727 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

Samuel Wesley the Younger, "An Epistle from Mr. Pope to Mr. Gay. Occasioned by two Stanzas in Black-Ey'd-Susan" Miscellania. In Two Volumes (1727) 1:134-37



Oft, as thou know'st, I've dar'd the Critic-Crowd
Unseen, like HOMER'S Heroes in a Cloud.
And oft, like TEUCER, hast thou ta'en the Field
Beneath mine ample Telamonian Shield.
Yet hence since Wits undue Advantage raise,
Studious to censure both, but neither praise,
Thee I'll espouse, my Friend, in open Light,
Careless, tho' CURLL shou'd print, or DENNIS write.
My Literal-self, that partial I commend,
In thee my Figurative-self, my Friend.

Who thy Poetick Worth can fitter tell?
So well who knows it, or who loves so well?
Tho' grov'ling oft, sometimes thou durst like me
Degenerate into loftiest Poetry!
How does th' applauding World with Wonder view
A Nymph, or Heroine, in a Black-Ey'd-Sue!
Whose Charms thy Verse has spread from Pole to Pole,
Where Winds can carry, or where Waves can rowl.
To noblest Heights did humblest Ballad rise,
When Indian Diamond sparkled for her Eyes.
When far-fetch'd Iv'ry taught the Lover's Sight
Her Skin how spotless, or her Teeth how white!
Her op'ning Lips Arabian Sweets exhale
Fragrant as od'rous Africk's spicy Gale.
Such choice Perfumes, nor VIRGIL'S happy Field,
Nor fam'd Alcinuous Magick Garden yields.
Nor fairer seem'd of old the Paphian-QUEEN,
When unadorn'd on Ide by PARIS seen.
Nor e'en Romance can brighter Charms display,
Nor more cou'd PETRARCH for his LAURA say.
For Flights like these, the Learn'd may search in vain
The Sabine Cygnet, or the Theban Swan.
But finest Genii near shou'd fetter'd be
By Character and dull Propriety.
But leave your real Life your simple Strains,
To English Milk-Maids, and Sicilian Swains.
Yet more thine Art, O Bard divine! is seen,
When CUPID guards his WILLIAM in Machine,
And turns the missive Balls that round him fly,
Lest Tears, alas! shou'd drop from SUKEY'S Eye.
Submissive at his Feet the Bullets fall,
Tho' shot with Force to sink an Admiral.
No more from MARS let VENUS Succour find,
But list her CUPID, now, no longer blind.
Improv'd by modern Marksmen let him know
The Use of Fire-Arms, and resign his Bow.
Such Art tho' tasteless Vandals disregard,
Is old, and worthy the Maeonian Bard.
So silver Thetis from her Ouze shall rise
The dread PATROCLUS to preserve from Flies.
Ambrosial Drops a kind Receipt afford,
Lest Maggots harm him after HECTOR'S Sword.

Sooner mine ODE that hail'd CAECILIA'S Day,
Shall yield the Palm to sing-song-Opoera;
And veil its weighty Sense and Thought profound,
To wav'ring, quav'ring, unudulating Sound.
The knotty Question shall determin'd be,
Of DRYDEN Bard immortal and of ME,
Which most excels in Verse and Piety.
Dan CHAUCER'S Tales, Dan DURFEY shall outshine,
And PHILIPS' Pastorals compare with MINE,
Than GAY forgotten lye.—
Or take Allusions in a nat'ral Strain,
Drawn from the Seaman's proper Place the Main.

Sooner shall British Sailors Cowards grow,
And count their Numbers when they meet their Foe.
The rough old Tar, a supple Courtier be,
And leave off Flip for elemental Tea,
Than thou shalt dye — till then, as VIRGIL says,
Shall last thy Name, thy Homer, and thy Praise.