Ode to Thomas Edwards, Esq; on the late Edition of Mr. Pope's Works
I. Believe me, Edwards, to restrain The licence of a railer's tongue Is what but seldom men obtain By sense or wit, by prose or song: A task for more Herculean powers, Nor suited to the sacred hours Of leisure in the Muse's bowers. II. In bowers where laurel weds with palm, The Muse, the blameless queen, resides: Fair fame attends, and wisdom calm Her eloquence harmonious guides: While, shut for ever from her gate, Oft trying, still repining, wait Fierce envy and calumnious hate. III. Who then from her delightful bounds Would step one moment forth to heed What impotent and savage sounds From their unhappy mouths proceed? No: rather Spenser's lyre again Prepare, and let thy pious strain For Pope's dishonor'd shade complain. IV. Tell how displeas'd was every bard, When lately in the Elysian grove They of his Muse's guardian heard, His delegate to fame above; And what with one accord they said Of wit in drooping age misled, And Warburton's officious aid: V. How Virgil mourn'd the sordid fate To that melodious lyre assign'd Beneath a tutor who so late With Midas and his rout combin'd By spiteful clamor to confound That very lyre's enchanting sound, Though listening realms admir'd around: VI. How Horace own'd he thought the fire Of his friend Pope's satiric line Did farther fuel scarce require From such a militant divine: How Milton scorn'd the sophist vain Who durst approach his hallow'd strain With unwash'd hands and lips profane. VII. Then Shakespear debonnair and mild Brought that strange comment forth to view; Conceits more deep, he said and smil'd, Than his own fools or madmen knew: But thank'd a generous friend above, Who did with free adventurous love Such pageants from his tomb remove. VIII. And if to Pope, in equal need, The same kind office thou would'st pay, Then, Edwards, all the band decreed That future bards with frequent lay Should call on thy auspicious name, From each absurd intruder's claim To keep inviolate their fame.
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