Thomas Parnell

The Book-Worm

Come hither, Boy, we'll hunt to Day
The Book-Worm, ravening Beast of Prey,
Produc'd by Parent Earth, at odds
(As Fame reports it) with the Gods.
Him frantick Hunger wildly drives
Against a thousand Authors Lives:
Thro' all the Fields of Wit he flies;
Dreadful his Head with clust'ring Eyes,
With Horns without, and Tusks within,
And Scales to serve him for a Skin.
Observe him nearly, lest he climb
To wound the Bards of antient Time,
Or down the Vale of Fancy go
To tear some modern Wretch below:
On ev'ry Corner fix thine Eye,
Or ten to one he slips thee by.

See where his Teeth a Passage eat:
We'll rouse him from the deep Retreat.
But who the Shelter's forc'd to give?
'Tis Sacred Virgil as I live!
From Leaf to Leaf, from Song to Song,
He draws the tadpole Form along,
He mounts the gilded Edge before,
He's up, he scuds the Cover o'er,
He turns, he doubles, there he past,
And here we have him, caught at last.

Insatiate Brute, whose Teeth abuse
The sweetest Servants of the Muse.
(Nay never offer to deny,
I took thee in the Fact to fly.)
His Roses nipt in ev'ry Page,
My poor Anacreon mourns thy Rage.
By thee my Ovid wounded lies;
By thee my Lesbia's Sparrow dies:
Thy rabid Teeth have half destroy'd
The Work of Love in Biddy Floyd,
They rent Belinda's Locks away,
And spoil'd the Blouzelind of Gay.
For all, for ev'ry single Deed,
Relentless Justice bids thee bleed.
Then fall a Victim to the Nine,
My self the Priest, my Desk the Shrine.

Bring Homer, Virgil, Tasso near,
To pile a sacred Altar here;
Hold, Boy, thy Hand out-run thy Wit,
You reach'd the Plays that D---s writ;
You reach'd me Ph---s rustick Strain;
Pray take your mortal Bards again.

Come bind the Victim,—there he lies,
And here between his num'rous Eyes
This venerable Dust I lay,
From Manuscripts just swept away.

The Goblet in my Hand I take,
(For the Libation's yet to make)
A Health to Poets! all their Days
May they have Bread, as well as Praise;
Sense may they seek, and less engage
In Papers fill'd with Party-Rage.
But if their Riches spoil their Vein
Ye Muses, make them poor again.

Now bring the Weapon, yonder Blade,
With which my tuneful Pens are made.
I strike the Scales that arm thee round,
And twice and thrice I print the Wound;
The sacred Altar floats with red,
And now he dies, and now he's dead.

How like the Son of Jove I stand,
This Hydra stretch'd beneath my Hand!
Lay bare the Monster's Entrails here,
To see what Dangers threat the Year:
Ye Gods! what Sonnets on a Wench?
What lean Translations out of French?
'Tis plain, this Lobe is so unsound,
S--- prints, before the Months go round.

But hold, before I close the Scene,
The sacred Altar shou'd be clean.
Oh had I Sh---ll's Second Bays,
Or T---! thy pert and humble Lays!
(Ye Pair, forgive me, when I vow
I never miss'd your Works till now)
I'd tear the Leaves to wipe the Shrine,
(That only way you please the Nine)
But since I chance to want these two,
I'll make the Songs of D---y do.

Rent from the Corps, on yonder Pin,
I hang the Scales that brac't it in;
I hang my studious Morning Gown,
And write my own Inscription down.

‘This Trophy from the Python won,
‘This Robe, in which the Deed was done,
‘These, Parnell glorying in the Feat,
‘Hung on these Shelves, the Muses Seat.
‘Here Ignorance and Hunger found
‘Large Realms of Wit to ravage round;
‘Here Ignorance and Hunger fell;
‘Two Foes in one I sent to Hell.
‘Ye Poets, who my Labours see,
‘Come share the Triumph all with me!
‘Ye Criticks! born to vex the Muse,
‘Go mourn the grand Ally you lose. 

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