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50 Rough satyrs dance, and Pan applauds the song:
The nymphs, forsaking ev'ry cave and spring,
Their early fruit, and milk-white turtles bring!
Each am'rous nymph prefers her gifts in vain,
On you their gifts are all bestowed again.
For you the swains their fairest flow'rs design,
And in one garland all their beauties join;
Accept the wreath which you deserve alone,
In whom all beauties are comprised in one.
See what delights in sylvan scenes appear !
Descending gods have found Elysium here.
In woods bright Venus with Adonis strayed;
And chaste Diana haunts the forest-shade.
Come, lovely nymph, and bless the silent hours,
When swains from shearing seek their nightly bow'rs; 65 When weary reapers quit the sultry field,
And crowned with corn their thanks to Ceres yield.
This harmless grove no lurking viper hides,
But in my breast the serpent love abides.
Here bees from blossoms sip the rosy dew, 70
But your Alexis knows no sweets but you.
O deign to visit our forsaken seats,
The mossy fountains, and the green retreats!
Where'er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade;
Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a shade; 75 Where'er you tread, the blushing flow'rs shall rise,
And all things flourish where you turn your eyes.
O! how I long with you to pass my days,
Invoke the muses, and resound your praise !
Your praise the birds shall chant in ev'ry grove,
And winds shall waft it to the pow'rs above.
But would you sing, and rival Orpheus' strain,
The wond'ring forests soon should dance again,
The moving mountains hear the pow'rful call,
And headlong streams hang list’ning in their fall.
But see, the shepherds shun the noon-day heat,
The lowing herds to murm'ring brooks retreat,
To closer shades the panting flocks remove;
Ye gods! and is there no relief for love?
But soon the sun with milder rays descends
To the cool ocean, where his journey ends:
On me love's fiercer flames for ever prey,
By night he scorches, as he burns by day.
FROM AN ESSAY ON CRITICISM
'Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But, of the two, less dang’rous is th' offence
To tire our patience, than mislead our sense.
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss;
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verse makes many more in prose.
'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
10 Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
In poets as true genius is but rare,
True taste as seldom is the critic's share;
Both must alike from heav'n derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as those to write. 15 Let such teach others who themselves excel,
And censure freely, who have written well.
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not critics to their judgment too?
Yet, if we look more closely, we shall find
20 Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind:
Nature affords at least a glimm’ring light,
The lines, though touched but faintly, are drawn right;
But as the slightest sketch, if justly traced,
Is by ill-colouring but the more disgraced, 25 So by false learning is good sense defaced :
Some are bewildered in the maze of schools,
And some made coxcombs nature meant but fools.
In search of wit, these lose their common sense,
And then turn critics in their own defence: 30 Each burns alike, who can, or cannot write,
Or with a rival's, or an eunuch's spite.
All fools have still an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing side.
If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spite,
35 There are who judge still worse than he can write.
Some have at first for wits, then poets passed, Turned critics next, and proved plain fools at last.
Some neither can for wits nor critics pass,
As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass.
Those half-learned witlings, num'rous in our isle,
As half-formed insects on the banks of Nile;
Unfinished things, one knows not what to call,
Their generation's so equivocal :
To tell 'em would a hundred tongues require,
Or one vain wit's, that might a hundred tire.
But you who seek to give and merit fame,
And justly bear a critic's noble name,
Be sure yourself and your own reach to know,
How far your genius, taste and learning go;
Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet,
And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.
Nature to all things fixed the limits fit,
And wisely curbed proud man's pretending wit.
As on the land while here the ocean gains,
In other parts it leaves wide sandy plains;
Thus in the soul while memory prevails,
The solid pow'r of understanding fails;
Where beams of warm imagination play,
The memory's soft figures melt away.
One science only will one genius fit;
So vast is art, so narrow human wit :
Not only bounded to peculiar arts,
But oft in those confined to single parts.
Like kings we lose the conquests gained before,
By vain ambitions still to make them more;
Each might his sev'ral province well command,
Would all but stoop to what they understand.
First follow nature, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which is still the same:
70 Unerring nature, still divinely bright,
One clear, unchanged, and universal light,
Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart,
At once the source, and end, and test of art.
Art from that fund each just supply provides ; 75 Works without show, and without pomp presides :
In some fair body thus th' informing soul
With spirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole,
Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve sustains;
Itself unseen, but in th' effects remains.
80 Some, to whom heav'n in wit has been profuse,
Want as much more, to turn it to its use;
For wit and judgment often are at strife,
Though meant each other's aid, like man and wife.
'Tis more to guide, than spur the muse's steed; 85 Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed;
The winged courser, like a gen'rous horse,
Shows most true mettle when you check his course.
Those rules of old discovered, not devised,
Are nature still, but nature methodised;
90 Nature, like liberty, is but restrained
By the same laws which first herself ordained.