1717 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

Elijah Fenton, "To Mr. Pope, in imitation of a Greek Epigram on Homer" in Pope, Works (1717) Sig. C2.



When Phoebus, and the nine harmonious maids,
Of old assembled in the Thespian shades;
What Theme, they cry'd, what high immortal air,
Befit these harps to sound, and thee to hear?
Reply'd the God; Your loftiest notes employ,
To sing young Peleus, and the Fall of Troy.
The wond'rous song, with rapture they rehearse;
Then ask, who wrought that miracle of verse?
He answer'd with a frown; I now reveal
A truth, that Envy bids me not conceal:
Retiring frequent to this Laureat vale,
I warbled to the Lyre that fav'rite tale,
Which, unobserv'd, a wand'ring Greek, and blind,
Heard me repeat; and treasur'd in his mind;
And, fir'd with thirst of more than mortal praise,
From me, the God of Wit, usurp'd the bays.

But let vain Greece indulge her growing fame,
Proud with celestial spoils to grace her name;
Yet when my arts shall triumph in the West,
And the White Isle with female pow'r is blest;
Fame, I foresee, will make reprisals there,
And the Translator's Palm to me transfer.
With less regret my claim I now decline;
The World will think his English Iliad mine.