1786 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

Anonymous, "An Icy Fragment" New London Magazine 4 (February 1788) 100-01.



See! how the Poet, in cold weather chuses
To make An Invocation to the Muses.

Descend, ye Nine, descend and sing;
For one performance to procure ye,
I'd give — aye — almost any thing;
And you're much wanted, I assure you.

Lord! what a treat 'twould be to hear the Nine
All singing together,
Like birds of a feather,
Such airs and such graces!
Three trebles, two bases,
Two tenors, and two counters, how divine!
And then to heart them play at the same time!
Bravo! Encore! Bravissimo! Sublime!
Now, Ladies, in compassion to the cry
Of a few supplicating mortals here,
(Whom nature form'd half nerve, half ear)
Do leave a-while that mountain-top so high,
And come and taste a little Christmas-cheer;
You'll find us hearty souls (you will indeed)
Who don't like you Parnassians feed;
Surely the fame of Christmas-pies
Has reach'd the topmost skies;
And let me whisper you, 'tis mighty well,
If you're not sometimes tortur'd with the smell.

Let me intreat you, once again, to come;
I know your gentle leader, sweet Apollo,
Will give you leave; nay, truly I have some
Faint hopes that he himself will follow.

For I've seen such strong proofs of his great condescension,
In some sort of lines that I somewhere have read,
Where the writer has had not the smallest pretension,
Or claim to the stuff that escap'd from his head;
And, at last, has confess'd, that to Phoebus alone
Belong'd all the fumes he puff'd out as his own.

And then again, you'll be upon the road,
To aid the Laureat with his New Year's Ode.

For though your Ladyships mayn't know it,
Speaking of you and this same Sack but Poet,
The prying world has gen'rally suppos'd
(Though his starch'd stanzas be at Court rehears'd)
These two years past the tuneful man has doz'd,
Or at too great a distance you've convers'd.

But in his chaste, his classic line,
What ease, what harmony, what grace,
What fire, what energy may shine,
When Thomas meets the Muses face to face,
There's none can tell; 'tis in the womb of time,
Like all the proofs of his prophetic rhime.

Let me again intreat you come to earth,
And give to Bards and Poetry new birth;
Not unrewarded shall your labours pass;
No; — if they do — then mark me for an Ass;
You shall have honours, titles for your fees;
We'll make you music doctors, if you please;—
Yes; all the Muses shall be made Mus-D.'s.

Let me again intreat you to step down,
Lest Dullness mark us wholly for her own.

All Helicon, — and not some trifling rill
Pickle the coming Ode; — sweet make it, sweeter;—
And, if it may be, even sweeter still,
To disappoint that snarling varlet, Peter,
And drive the Goths and Vandals from Tom's metre.