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First follow Nature, and your judgment frame By her just standard, which is still the same; Unerring Nature, still divinely bright, One clear, unchang'd, 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, 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 every nerve sustains, Itself unseen, but in th' effects remains. Some, to whom Heaven 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, Restrain his fury than provoke his speed : The winged courser, like a generous horse, Shows most true mettle when
check his course. Those rules of old, discover’d, not devis’d, Are nature still, but nature methodiz’d : Nature, like liberty, is but restrain'd By the same laws which first herself ordain'd.
Hear how learn'd Greece her useful rules indites When to repress and when indulge our flights : High on Parnassus' top her sons she show'd, And pointed out those arduous paths they trod; Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize, And urg'd the rest by equal steps to rise.
Just precepts thus from great examples given,
you may, but never criticise.
And trace the Muses upward to their spring.
Maro in his boundless mind A work ť outlast immortal Rome design’d, Perhaps he seem'd above the critic's law, And but from Nature's fountains scorn'd to draw; But when t examine every part he came, Nature and Homer were, he found, the same. Convinc'd, amazd, he checks the bold design, And rules as strict his labour'd work confine As if the Stagyrite o’erlook'd each line. Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem; To
copy Nature is to copy them. 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 license answer to the full Th'intent propos’d, that license 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 critics dare not mend; From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part, 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,
I know there are to whose presumptuous thoughts
green with bays each ancient altar stands Above the reach of sacrilegious hands, Secure from flames, from envy's fiercer rage, Destructive war, and all-involving age. See from each clime the learn’d their incense bring! Hear in all tongues consenting paans ring! In praise so just let every voice be join’d, And fill the general chorus of mankind.
Hail, bards triumphant! born in happier days,
celestial fire The last, the meanest of your sons inspire, (That on weak wings, from far, pursues your flights, Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes) To teach vain wits a science little known, T'admire superior sense, and doubt their own.