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I 20

Some dryly plain, without invention's aid,

115 Write dull receipts how poems should be made These lose the sense their learning to display, And those explain the meaning quite away.

You then whose judgment the right course wou'd steer, Know well each Ancient's proper character, His fable, subject, scope of ev'ry page, Religion, country, genius of his age : Without all these at once before your eyes, Cavil you may, but never criticize Be Homer's works your study and delight,

I 25 Read him by day and meditate by night. Thence form your judgment, thence your notions bring, And trace the Muses upward to their spring. Still with itself compar’d, his text peruse;, Or let your comment be the Mantuan muse.


+ When first young Maro sung of kings and wars,
Ere warning Phæbus touch'd his trembling ears,
Perhaps he seem'd above the critic's law,
And but from nature's fountains fcorn’d to draw ;
But when t’examine every part he came,
Nature and Homer were, he found, the same;
Convinc’d, amaz’d, he checks the bold design,
And rules as strict his labour'd work confine,
As if the Stagyrite o’erlook'd each line.


+ Cum canerem Reges & Prælia, Cynthius aurem vellit---Virg. Ecl. 6.


Stultitiâ fimplex ille, & fine divite venà,
Carmina quo fiant pacto miserabilè narrat.
Doctrinam ostentans, mentem alter perdidit omnem,
Atque alter nodis vafer implicat enodando.

I 25


Tu quicunque cupis judex procedere recte,
Fac veteris cujusque ftylus discatur ad unguem ;
Fabulá, materies, quo tendat pagina quævis;
Patria, religio quæ fint, queis moribus ævum :
Si non intuitu cuncta hæc complecteris uno,
Scurra, cavilator----criticus mihi non eris unquam.
Ilias esto tibi ftudium, tibi fola voluptas,
Perque diem lege, per noctes meditare serenas;
Hinc tibi judicium, hinc' ortum sententia ducat,
Musarumque undas fontem bibe lætus ad ipsum.
Ipse suorum operum fit commentator, & author,
Mæonidisve legas interprete scripta Marone.


Cum caneret primum parvus Maro bella virosque; Nec monitor Phæbus tremulas jam velleret aures; Legibus immunem criticis fe fortè putabat,

140 Nil nisi naturam archetypam dignatus adire : Sed simul ac cautè mentem per singula volvit, Naturam invenit, quacunque invenit Homerum. Victus, & attonitus, malesani desinit ausi, Jamque laboratum in numerum vigil omnia cogit,

145 Cultaque Aristotelis metitur carmina normâ.


Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem,
To copy nature, is to copy them.


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Some beauties yet, no precepts can declare,
For there's a happiness as well as care.
Music resembles poetry, in each
Are nameless graces which no methods teach,
And which a master-hand alone can reach.
+ If where the rules not far enough extend,
(Since rules were made but to promote their end)
Some lucky licence answers to the full
Th’ intent propos’d, that licence is a rule.

Thus Pegasus a nearer way to take,
May boldly deviate from the common track.
Great wits sometimes may gloriously offend,
And rise to faults true criticks dare not mend;
From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part, 155
And snatch a grace beyond the reach of art,
Which, without passing thro' the judgment, gains
The heart, and all its end at once attains.
In prospects thus some objects please our eyes,
Which out of nature's common order rise,

160 The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice. But care in poetry must still be had, It asks discretion ev’n in running mad :

+ Neque tam sancta sunt ifta præcepta, sed hoc quicquid est, utilitas excogitavit ; non negabo autem fic utile est plerumque ; verum fi eadem illa nobis aliud fuadebit utilitas, hanc, relictis magiftrorum autoritatibus, fequemur.

Quint. lib. 2. cap. 13.


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Hinc veterum discas præcepta vererier, illos
Sectator, fic naturam sectaberis ipfam.




At vero virtus reftat jam plurima, nullo
Describenda modo, nullâque parabilis arte,
Nam felix tam fortuna est, quam cura canendi.
Musicam in hoc reddit divina poesis, utramque
Multæ ornant veneres, quas verbis pingere non est,
Quasque attingere nil nisi summa peritia possit.
Regula quandocunque minus diffufa videtur
(Quum tantum ad propriam collinet fingula metam)
Si modo consiliis inferviat ulla juvandis
Apta licentia, lex enim ista licentia fiat.
Atque ita quo cituis procedat, calle relicto
Communi musæ sonipes benè devius erret:
Accidit interdum, ut fcriptores ingenium ingens
Evehat ad culpam egregiam, maculasque micantes
Quas nemo criticorum audet detergere figat;
Accidit ut linquat vulgaria claustra furore
Magnanimo, rapiatque folutum lege decorem,
Qui, quum judicium non intercedat, ad ipfum
Cor properat, finesque illic fimul obtinet omnes.
Haud aliter fi forte jugo speculamur aprico,
Luminibus res arrident, quas Dædala tellus
Parcior oftentare folet, velut ardua montis
Afperitas, fcopulive exesi pendulus horror.
Cura tamen femper magna est adhibenda poesi,
Atque hic cum ratione insaniat author, oportet :





And tho' the antients thus their rules invade,
(As kings dispense with laws themselves have made) 165
Moderns beware! or if you must offend
Against the precept, ne'er transgress its end.
Let it be seldom, and compell’d by need,
And have, at least, their precedent to plead.
The critic else proceeds without remorse,

170 Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force.

I know there are, to whose presumptuous thoughts
Those freer beauties, even in them, seem faults.
Some figures monstrous, and miss-shap'd appear,
Consider'd singly, or beheld too near,

Which, but proportion’d to their light, or place,
Due distance reconciles to form and

A prudent chief not always must display
His pow'rs in equal ranks, and fair array ;
But with th' occasion, and the place comply,

Conceal his force, nay, sometimes seem to fly.
Those oft are stratagems which errors seem,
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.


Still green with bays each ancient altar stands,
Above the reach of facrilegious hands;
Secure from flames, from envy's fiercer rage,
Distructive war, and all-devouring age.
Sie, from each clime the learn’d their incense bring;
Hear in all tongues con enting pæans ring!


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