1737 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

A Youth of Sixteen, "To Mr. Pope" Universal Spectator (17 December 1737).



When Sounds of Harmony the Fancy warm,
Fill with their Force, or with their Softness charm,
Some Child attentive ('midst the list'ning Throng)
Hears the sweet Strains, and much admires the Song;
He knows not 'tis an Impulse sent from Heaven,
But thinks to him such pleasing Pow'r is given;
Bids rising Notes swell at his own Command,
Wake into Sound, and tremble from his Hand;
With awkward Thrumming plies the Vocal Strings,
Harsh Jarring grates the Ear, and Discord sings.

Such is the Verse my unskill'd Muse inspires,
Breathing forth a trembling Note, and then retires;
Learns from her Weakness to revere the more,
Thy Strains unequall'd, thy transcending Pow'r;
Where every Science beams its aiding Rays,
And shines diffusive through the polish'd Lays;
So smooth, yet nervous; so correct, yet sweet;
Polite, yet learn'd, and daring, though discreet.

Accept, O POPE! these Praises from a Youth,
Who amidst Falshood lives a Friend to Truth;
Who boasts no Merit, claims the Praise of none,
Honours the Great, but scorns the servile Fawn;
Who loves the Muse; — Whom wou'd the Muse inspire,
No venal Lay should prostitute his Lyre;
Like thine his Virtue, if like thine his Art,
His Verse should prove as honest as his Heart.