PlTY, says the Theban bard,
From my wishes I discard;
Envy, let me rather be,
Rather far, a theme for thee!
Pity to distress is shown,
Envy to the great alone.
So the Theban : but to shine
Less conspicuous be mine!
I prefer the golden mean,
Pomp and penury between;
For alarm and peril wait
Ever on the loftiest state,
And the lowest to the end
Obloquy and scorn attend.


I SLEPT when Venus entered: to my bed
A Cupid in her beauteous hand she led,
A bashful seeming boy, and thus she said:

"Shepherd, receive my little one! I bring
An untaught love, whom thou must teach to sing."
She said, and left him. I, suspecting nought,
Many a sweet strain my subtle pupil taught,
How reed to reed Pan first with osier bound,
How Pallas formed the pipe of softest sound,
How Hermes gave the lute, and how the quire
Of Phoebus owe to Phcebus' self the lyre.
Such were my themes; my themes nought heeded he,
But ditties sang of amorous sort to me,
The pangs that mortals and immortals prove
From Venus' influence, and the darts of love.
Thus was the teacher by the pupil taught;
His lessons I retained, and mine forgot.


Oft we enhance our ills by discontent,
And give them bulk beyond what nature meant.
A parent, brother, friend deceased, to cry—
"He's dead indeed, but he was born to die"—
Such temperate grief is suited to the size
And burthen of the loss; is just and wise.
But to exclaim, "Ah! wherefore was I born,
Thus to be left for ever thus forlorn?"
Who thus laments his loss invites distress,
And magnifies a woe that might be less,
Through dull despondence to his lot resigned,
And leaving reason's remedy behind.


Pay me my price, potters! and I will sing.
Attend, O Pallas! and with lifted arm
Protect their oven; let the cups and all
The sacred vessels blacken well, and, baked
With good success, yield them both fair renowu
And profit, whether in the market sold
Or streets, and let no strife ensue between us.
But, O ye potters! if with shameless front
Ye falsify your promise, then I leave
No mischief uninvoked to avenge the wrong.
Come, Syntrips, Smaragus, Sabactes, come,
And Asbetus, nor let your direst dread,
Omodamus, delay! Fire seize your house i
May neither house nor vestibule escape I
May ye lament to see confusion mar
And mingle the whole labour of your hands,
And may a sound fill all your oven, such
As of a horse grinding his provender.
While all your pots and flagons bounce within.
Come hither also, daughter of the sun,
Circe the sorceress, and with thy drugs
Poison themselves, and all that they have made!
Come also, Chiron, with thy numerous troop
Of centaurs, as well as those who died beneath
The club of Hercules, as who escaped,
And stamp their crockery to dust; down fall
Their chimney; let them see it with their eyes,
And howl to see the ruin of their art,
While I rejoice; and if a potter stoop
To peep into his furnace, may the fire
Flash in his face and scorch it, that all men
Observe, thenceforth, equity and good faith.
Oct. 1790



BENEATH the hedge or near the stream,

A worm is known to stray,
That shows by night a lucid beam,

Which disappears by day.

1 No title is prefixed to this piece, but it appears to be a translation or one of the E7Tt7pafXfxara of Homer called '0 Ka/uvos, or the Furnace. Herodotus or whoever was the author of the Life of Homer ascribed to him, observes, "Certain potters, while they were busied baking their ware, seeing Homer at a small distance, and having heard much said of his wisdom, called to him, and promised him a present of their commodity and of such other things as they could afford, if he would sing to them, when he sang as follows."

Disputes have been and still prevail
From whence his rays proceed;

Some give that honour to his tail,
And others to his head.

But this is sure,—the hand of might

That kindles up the skies, Gives him a modicum of light,

Proportioned to his size.

Perhaps indulgent Nature meant
By such a lamp bestowed,

To bid the traveller, as he went,
Be careful where he trod;

Nor crush a worm, whose useful light
Might serve, however small,

To show a stumbling stone by night,
And save him from a fall.

Whate'er she meant, this truth divine

Is legible and plain,
'Tis power Almighty bids him shine,

Nor bids him shine in vain.

Ye proud and wealthy, let this iheme
Teach humbler thoughts to you,

Since such a reptile has its gem,
And boasts its splendour too.


There is a bird who by his coat,
And by the hoarseness of his note,

Might be supposed a crow;
A great frequenter of the church,
Where bishop-like he finds a perch,

And dormitory too.

Above the steeple shines a plate,
That turns and turns, to indicate

From what point blows the weather; Look up,—your brains begin to swim, 'Tis in the clouds ;—that pleases him,

lie chooses it the rather.

Fond of the speculative height,
Thither he wings his airy flight,

And thence securely sees
The bustle and the raree-show
That occupy mankind below,

Secure and at his ease.

You think no doubt he sits and muses On future broken bones and bruises,

I f he should chance to fall;
No, not a single thought like that
Employs his philosophic pate,

Or troubles it at all.

He sees that this great roundabout
The world, with all its motley rout,

Church, army, physic, law,
Its customs and its businesses
Are no concern at all of his,

And says,—what says he? Caw.

Thrice happy bird! I too have seen
Much of the vanities of men,

And sick of having seen 'em,
Would cheerfully these limbs resign
For such a pair of wings as thine,

And such a head between 'em.


Little inmate, full of mirth,
Chirping on my kitchen hearth;
Wheresoe'er be thine abode,
Always harbinger of good,
Pay me for thy warm retreat,
With a song more soft and sweet,
In return thou shalt receive
Such a strain as I can give.

Thus thy praise shall be exprest,
Inoffensive, welcome guest!
While the rat is on the scout,
And the mouse with curious snout,
With what vermin else infest
Every dish, and spoil the best;
Frisking thus before the fire,
Thou hast all thine heart's desire.

Though in voice and shape they be
Formed as if akin to thee,
Thou surpassest, happier far,
Happiest grasshoppers that are;
Theirs is but a summer's song,
Thine endures the winter long,
Unimpaired and shrill and clear,
Melody throughout the year.

Neither night nor dawn of day
Puts a period to thy play.
Sing then—and extend thy span
Far beyond the date of man;
Wretched man, whose years are spent
In repining discontent,
Lives not, aged though he be,
Half a span compared with thee.


In painted plumes superbly drest,
A native of the gorgeous east,

By many a billow tost,
Poll gains at length the British shore,
Part of the captain's precious store,

A present to his toast.

Belinda's maids are soon preferred
To teach him now and then a word,

As Poll can master it;
But 'tis her own important cnarge
To qualify him more at large,

And make him quite a wit.

"Sweet Poll! " his doting mistress cries, "Sweet Poll!" the mimic bird replies,

And calls aloud for sack;
She next instructs him in the kiss,
'Tis now a little one like Miss,

And now a hearty smack.

At first he aims at what he hears,
And listening close with both his ears,

Just catches at the sound;
But soon articulates aloud,
Much to the amusement of the crowd,

And stuns the neighbours round.

A querulous old woman's voice
His humorous talent next employs,

He scolds and gives the lie;
And now he sings, and now is sick,
Here, Sally, Susan, come, come quick,

Poor Poll is like to die.

Belinda and her bird! 'tis rare

To meet with such a well-matched pair,

The language and the tone, Each character in every part Sustained with so much grace and art,

And both in unison.

When children first begin to spell,
And stammer out a syllable,

We think them tedious creatures;
But difficulties soon abate,
When birds are to be taught to prate,

And women are the teachers.

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