1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. John Wolcot

G. B. R., "The Two Pindars; or, a Hint to Apollo" Felix Farley's Bristol Journal (13 October 1787).



When Theban Pindar swept the lyre
With hand of art, and soul of fire
The praise of heroes and of kings
Quiver'd along his trembling strings:
Proud on the pinions of an ode,
The monarch swell'd into the god:
The deep, majestic peal of song,
With force impetuous roll'd along;
And nations stood aghast with wonder,
Awed by the poet's deep-mouth'd thunder.
Not such indeed in modern times
The grand effect of lyric rhimes;
Some daring souls perhaps inherit
A portion of the Theban's spirit.—
But though their lay his lay resemble,
We chuse to laugh, and not to tremble.
Apollo! yield the iron chair,
Or place another Pindar there.
With merry heart, and lyre unstrung,
With ears unhurt, and nose unwrung,
Let Peter take the vacant place,
And read his odes with due grimace;
Pindar with you may nectar quaff,
Let Peter sit and make us laugh.
His rhimes will show that panegyric
Is not a theme for modern lyric;
And though, like Pindar, 'tis his object
To take a monarch for his subject,
He finds a good and pious king
May prove a mirth-exciting thing,
And so with great good-humour tries
To sink him in his people's eyes;
Bids them each fault and foible scan,
And lose the monarch in the man:
These are the odes that now-a-days
Receive the palm of public praise.
Then, Phoebus, let the favour'd bard
Meet from your hands his due reward!
First, let the brother Pindars quarrel,
The Theban grace with sprigs of laurel;
And since to different modes of song
A different meed must sure belong,
Mark this deserter from the church
With well-directed sprigs of birch.