Mather Byles

To an ingenious young Gentleman, on his dedicating a Poem to the Author.

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To you, dear Youth, whom all the Muses own,
And great Apollo speaks his darling Son,
To you the Muse directs her grateful Lays,
And brings the Tribute which you merit, Praise.
What various Vertues in your Person join,
Tho' great yet humble, modest tho' divine;
Tho' num'rous Graces glitter thro' your Song,
And heav'nly Accents dance around your Tongue;
Strong in your Mind while big Ideas roll,
And your vast Subject fills your lab'ring Soul.
Yet, from your Heights, how kind you condescend,
Forget your Greatness, and assume the Friend?
Your Friend, you fond approve, commend, admire,
Bless with the Criticks Light, and Poets Fire,
To crown your Friend, your gen'rous Hand allows
A Branch of Bays from your o'ershaded Brows;
Unfading Wreaths, around my Temples spread,
By you unmiss'd, adorn my joyful Head.
So your bright Father Phoebus, o'er the Skies
Profusely scatters Light's eternal Dyes,
Unnumber'd Worlds from him receive their Days,
Yet still he shines with undiminish'd Rays.
Each Time I view this Product of your Art
Two diff'rent Passions struggle in my Heart,
Which, like the ebbing, or the flowing Tyde,
Contracts with Envy, or dilates with Pride;
Now shrunk with Spight, now with Ambition swell'd,
Proud at your Praise, env'ous to be excell'd:
And as I meditate the doubtful Theme,
My clashing Passions strike a sudden Flame;
The Muse takes Fire--Thoughts thick upon her throng,
Start the quick Words, and rapid run along.
So when in wat'ry Clouds hot Sulphur pent,
Runs here and there, and labours for a Vent.
Till kindling to a Blaze at the rough Jars,
Water with Fire, and Fire with Waters wars;
Then bursting forth, thick-flashing Lightning flies,
And ready Thunder rolls along the Skies.
Ah! how can I the happy Title claim,
And of your Tutor boast th' immortal Name,
When in your Breast ten Thousand Raptures live,
And glow superiour to the Sparks I give?
In vain you say I form'd your Infant Strains,
Taught you on stubborn Thoughts to fling your Chains,
Smooth'd your harsh Voice, & bid your Numbers glide
Like gentle Rills a-down a Mountains Side;
Prun'd your young Wings, instructed you to skim
The level Lawn, or daring Soar sublime;
In vain all these, when ev'ry Judge will find
You fly aloft, unfetter'd, unconfin'd,
And see my distant Muse, short-panting, lag behind.
So the low Hen the Eagles Egg may hatch,
And feed the callow Care, and o'er him watch,
But when thick Feathers on his Back unite,
He spreads his Plumes, & takes a tow'ring Flight,
Neglects his Nurse, & claims his heav'nly Birth,
While she, with flutt'ring Wings, hovers,--and drops to Earth.
But Oh! forbear, thy lavish Tongue be tame,
Nor slush my Features with a conscious Flame,
Justice demands that I th' Applause refuse:
Not I, but mighty Pope inspir'd thy Muse.
He, wondrous Bard! whose Numbers reach our Shore,
Tho' Oceans roll between, and Tempests roar:
Hush'd are the Storms, & smooth the Waters lie,
As his sweet Musick glides harmonious by;
Ravish'd, my Ear receives the heav'nly Guest,
My Heart high-leaping, beats my panting Breast:
Thro' all my Mind incessant Rapture reigns,
And Joys immortal revel in my Veins.
So the soft SYRENS warbled o'er the Main,
And so ULISSES' Soul took Wing to meet the Strain.
O Pope! thy Fame is spread around the Sky,
Far as the Waves can flow, far as the Winds can fly!
Hail! Bard triumphant, fill'd with hallow'd Rage,
Sent from high Heav'n to grace the happy Age
For thee a thousand Garlands shall be wove,
And ev'ry Clime project a laurel Grove;
Thy Name be heard in ev'ry artful Song,
And thy loud Praise employ each tuneful Tongue.
Ev'n my young Muse the noble Theme would take,
And lisp imperfect what she cannot speak.
'Tis Pope, my Friend, that guilds our gloomy Night,
And if I shine 'tis his reflected Light:
So the pale Moon, bright with her borrow'd Beams,
Thro' the dark Horrors shoots her silver Gleams.
Pope's are the Rules which you, my Friend, receive,
From him I gather what to you I give.
When I attend to his immortal Lyre,
I kindle instant with a sacred Fire;
Now here, now there, my Soul pursues his Song,
Hurried impetuous by his Pow'r along:
My Pulse beats thick, urg'd by my driving Blood,
And on my Breast I feel the rushing GOD.
But when to you I would the Flames convey,
In my cold Hands the holy Fires decay.
As when your Hand the Convex-Glass displays,
It close collects some scatter'd solar Rays;
Tho' cold the Glass, where'er its Focus aims,
The Object smokes, it reddens, and it flames:
So Pope, thro' me, shines full upon your Muse;
So cold my Breast; and so your Bosom glows.
Go on, sweet Poet, charm our list'ning Ears,
Infuse new Joy, and scatter all our Cares.
O let no Trifle tempt your noble Rage,
No mortal Theme your mighty Muse engage;
But when harmonious to her Lyre she sings,
And with swift Fingers strikes the trembling Strings.
Let sacred Subjects fill the Air around,
And Angels waft to Heav'n the Extacy of Sound.
Write for ETERNITY!--what Pleasures thrill
Thro' all my Veins and urge my flying Quill
As that I name? what Transports fire my Mind,
When I behold its wond'rous Scenes combin'd?
Here, the last Trumpet shakes the sounding Air,
There, gloomy glow the Regions of Despair:
Now, on this Earth devouring Flames increase,
And bellowing Burnings boyl the hissing Seas:
Then, melting Joys my swiming Eyes confess,
And Saints dissolve away in endless Bliss:
While hymning Cherubs try their tuneful Strains,
And charm, with Notes like yours, the heav'nly Plains;
Exalted high, the Saviour-God is known,
And dazling Glory blazes round his Throne;
Around his Head a beamy Lustre plays,
Where glittering Jewels blend their trembling Rays;
Eternal Day breaks from his radient Eyes,
And flames divinely o'er the shining Skies:
Thus sits the GOD, with awful Honours crown'd
While everlasting Ages wheel their mighty Round!--
But, pause my Muse; cease my unartful Song:
The Beauties which I strive to praise I wrong.
The Scenes so fast upon my Fancy flow,
Convinc'd, I own Eternity a NOW.
Thus let your pious Muse employ her Flame,
Then, lasting as your Theme, shall be your Fame:
Thus let your Poesy refine, improve,
And match the Musick of the Choirs above;
Still from your Lips let such soft Notes arise,
And Songs of Seraphs sound beneath the Skies;
Till, as your Muse, your Soul expands her Wings,
And to their bright Abodes, exulting, springs:
There, there your Voice shall deathless Strains resound,
And be amid th' immortal Chorus drown'd.
So some full Spring a trickling Rill bestows,
That makes melodious Murmur as it flows;
It widens as it wanders on its Course,
And as it glides it gathers greater Force;
Still on it runs, and nought its Stream controuls,
It now a Riv'let, now a River rolls.
Now its strong Tyde, with unresisted Sway
Rushes impetuous down and foams away;
It pours along, and all its Banks out-braves
Till the vast Sea absorbs its undistinguish'd Waves.

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Mather Byles