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The Parnassiad




Come, Fancy, thou hast ever been,
In life's low vale, my ready friend
To cheer the clouded hour ;
Tho unfledg'd with scholastic law,
Some visionary picture draw
With all thy magic pow'r.
Now to the intellectual eye
The glowing prospects rise,
Parnassus' lofty summits high,
Far tow'ring mid the skies,
Where vernally, eternally,
Rich leafy laurels grow,
With bloomy bays, thro endless days,
To crown the Poet's brow.


Sure, bold is he who dares to climb
Yon awful jutting rock sublime,
Who dares Pegasus * sit ;
For should brain ballast prove too light,
He'll spurn him from his airy height
Down to Oblivion's pit,
There to disgrace for ever doom'd
To mourn his sick'ning woes,
And weep, that ever he presum'd
Above the vale of Prose.
Then, O beware ! with prudent care,
Nor tempt the steeps of fame,
And leave behind thy peace of mind,
To gain a sounding name.


Behold !—yon ready rhyming carl,
With flatt'ry fir'd, attracts the warl'
By canker'd, pers'nal satire ;
He takes th' unthinking crowd's acclaim
For sterling proofs of lasting fame,
And deals his inky spatter.
Now, see ! he on Pegasus flies
With bluff, important straddle !
He bears him midway up the skies,—
See ! see ! he's off the saddle !
He headlong tumbles, growls and grumbles,
Down the dark abyss ;
The noisy core, that prais'd before,
Now join the gen'ral hiss.


Now, see another vent'rer rise
Deep fraught with fulsome eulogies
To win his patron's favour,—
One of those adulating things
That, dangling in the train of kings,
Give guilt a splendid cover.
He mounts, well prefac'd by “my Lord,”
Inflicts the spur's sharp wound ;
Pegasus spurns the great man's word,
And won't move from the ground.
Now, mark his face flush'd with disgrace,
Thro future life to grieve on ;
His wishes cross'd, his hopes all lost,
He sinks into oblivion.


Yon city scribbler thinks to scale
The cliffs of fame with Pastoral,
In worth thinks none e'er richer,
Yet never climb'd the upland steep,
Nor e'er beheld a flock of sheep,
Save those driv'n by the butcher ;
Nor ever mark'd the gurgling stream,
Except the common sew'r
On rainy days, when dirt and slime
Pour'd turbid past his door.
Choice epithets in store he gets
From Virgil, Shenstone, Pope,
With tailor art tacks part to part,
And makes his Past'ral up.


But see, rich clad in native worth,
Yon Bard of Nature ventures forth,
In simple modest tale ;
Applauding millions catch the song,
The raptur'd rocks the notes prolong,
And hand them to the gale.
Pegasus kneels—he takes his seat—
Now, see ! aloft he towers
To place him, 'bove the reach of fate,
In Fame's ambrosial bowers :
To be enroll'd with bards of old
In ever honour'd station,—
The gods, well pleas'd, see mortals rais'd
Worthy of their creation!


Now, mark what crowds of hackney scribblers,
Imitators, rhyming dabblers,
Follow in the rear !
Pegasus spurns us one by one,
Yet, still fame-struck, we follow on,
And tempt our fate severe :
In many a dogg'rel Epitaph,
And short-lined, mournful Ditty,
Our “Ahs !—Alases !” raise the laugh,
Revert the tide of pity,
Yet still we write in Nature's spite,
Our last piece aye the best ;
Arraigning still, complaining still,
The world for want of taste !


Observe yon poor deluded man,
With threadbare coat and visage wan
Ambitious of a name ;
The nat'ral claims of meat and cleeding,
He reckons these not worth the heeding,
But presses on for fame !
The public voice, touchstone of worth,
Anonymous he cries ;
But draw the critic's vengeance forth,—
His fancied glory dies.
Neglected now, dejected now,
He gives his spleen full scope ;
In solitude he chews his cud—
A downright Misanthrope.


Then, brother rhymsters, O beware !
Nor tempt unscar'd the specious snare
Which Self-Love often weaves ;
Nor dote with a fond father's pains
Upon the offspring of your brains,
For fancy oft deceives.
To lighten life, a wee bit sang
Is sure a sweet illusion !
But ne'er provoke the critic's stang
By premature intrusion.
Lock up your piece, let fondness cease,
Till mem'ry fail to bear it,
With critic lore then read it o'er,
Yourself may judge its merit.













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