1726 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

William Broome, "To Mr. A. Pope, who corrected my Verses" 1726; Broome, Poems (1739) 192-94.



If e'er my humble Muse melodious sings,
'Tis when you animate and tune her Strings;
If e'er she mounts, 'tis when you prune her Wings.
You, like the Sun, your glorious Beams display,
Deal to the darkest Orb a friendly Ray,
And cloath it with the Lustre of the Day.

Mean was the Piece, unelegantly wrought,
The Colours faint, irregular the Draught;
But your commanding Touch, your nicer Art,
Rais'd every Stroke, and brighten'd every Part.

So when Luke drew the Rudiments of Man,
An Angel finish'd what the Saint began;
His wondrous Pencil, dipt in heav'nly Dyes,
Gave Beauty to the Face, and Lightning to the Eyes.

Confus'd it lay, a rough unpolish'd Mass,
You gave the royal Stamp, and made it pass;
Hence ev'n Deformity a Beauty grew,
She pleas'd, she charm'd, but pleas'd and charm'd by You;
Tho' like Prometheus I the Image frame,
You give the Life, and bring the heav'nly Flame.

Thus when the Nile diffus'd his watry Train
In Streams of Plenty o'er the fruitful Plain;
Unshapen Forms, the Refuse of the Flood,
Issu'd imperfect from the teeming Mud;
But the great Source and Parent of the Day,
Fashion'd the Creature, and inform'd the Clay.

Weak of herself, my Muse forbears her flight,
Views her own Lowness, and Parnassus' Height;
But when you aid her Song, and deign to nod,
She spreads a bolder Wing, and feels the present God.

So the Cumaean Prophetess was dumb,
Blind to the Knowledge of Events to come;
But when Apollo in her Breast abode,
She heav'd, she swell'd, she felt the rushing God;
Then Accents more than mortal from her broke,
And what the God inspir'd, the Priestess spoke.