poem – epitaph on thomas parnell

THIS tomb, inscrib’d to gentle Parnell’s name,
May speak our gratitude, but not his fame.
What heart but feels his sweetly-moral lay,
That leads to truth through pleasure’s flowery way!
Celestial themes confess’d his tuneful aid;
And Heaven, that lent him genius, was repaid.
Needless to him the tribute we bestow —
The transitory breath of fame below:
More lasting rapture from his works shall rise,
While Converts thank their poet in the skies.

poem – the poet laberius

WHAT! no way left to shun th’ inglorious stage,
And save from infamy my sinking age!
Scarce half alive, oppress’d with many a year,
What in the name of dotage drives me here?
A time there was, when glory was my guide,
Nor force nor fraud could turn my steps aside;
Unaw’d by pow’r, and unappall’d by fear,
With honest thrift I held my honour dear;
But this vile hour disperses all my store,
And all my hoard of honour is no more.
For ah! too partial to my life’s decline,
Caesar persuades, submission must be mine;
Him I obey, whom heaven itself obeys,
Hopeless of pleasing, yet inclin’d to please.
Here then at once, I welcome every shame,
And cancel at threescore a life of fame;
No more my titles shall my children tell,
The old buffoon will fit my name as well;
This day beyond its term my fate extends,
For life is ended when our honour ends.

Poem – An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog

Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song; 

And if you find it wondrous short,

It cannot hold you long.
In Islington there was a man

Of whom the world might say,

That still a godly race he ran— 

Whene’er he went to pray.
A kind and gentle heart he had,

To comfort friends and foes; 

The naked every day he clad— 

When he put on his clothes.
And in that town a dog was found,

As many dogs there be,

Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,

And curs of low degree.
This dog and man at first were friends; 

But when a pique began,

The dog, to gain some private ends,

Went mad, and bit the man.
Around from all the neighbouring streets

The wond’ring neighbours ran,

And swore the dog had lost its wits

To bite so good a man.
The wound it seemed both sore and sad

To every Christian eye; 

And while they swore the dog was mad,

They swore the man would die.
But soon a wonder came to light

That showed the rogues they lied,— 

The man recovered of the bite,

The dog it was that died! 

Poem – An Epigram 

Worried with debts and past all hopes of bail,

His pen he prostitutes t’ avoid a gaol.


LET not the ‘hungry’ Bavius’ angry stroke

Awake resentment, or your rage provoke;

But pitying his distress, let virtue shine,

And giving each your bounty, ‘let him dine’;

For thus retain’d, as learned counsel can, 

Each case, however bad, he’ll new japan;

And by a quick transition, plainly show

‘Twas no defect of yours, but ‘pocket low’,

That caused his ‘putrid kennel’ to o’erflow. 

Poem – A New Simile 

LONG had I sought in vain to find

A likeness for the scribbling kind;

The modern scribbling kind, who write

In wit, and sense, and nature’s spite:

Till reading, I forget what day on, 

A chapter out of Tooke’s Pantheon,

I think I met with something there,

To suit my purpose to a hair;

But let us not proceed too furious,

First please to turn to god Mercurius; 

You’ll find him pictur’d at full length

In book the second, page the tenth:

The stress of all my proofs on him I lay,

And now proceed we to our simile.
Imprimis, pray observe his hat, 

Wings upon either side–mark that.

Well! what is it from thence we gather?

Why these denote a brain of feather.

A brain of feather! very right,

With wit that’s flighty, learning light; 

Such as to modern bard’s decreed:

A just comparison,–proceed.
In the next place, his feet peruse,

Wings grow again from both his shoes;

Design’d, no doubt, their part to bear, 

And waft his godship through the air;

And here my simile unites,

For in a modern poet’s flights,

I’m sure it may be justly said,

His feet are useful as his head. 
Lastly, vouchsafe t’observe his hand,

Filled with a snake-encircl’d wand;

By classic authors term’d caduceus,

And highly fam’d for several uses.

To wit–most wond’rously endu’d, 

No poppy water half so good;

For let folks only get a touch,

Its soporific virtue’s such,

Though ne’er so much awake before,

That quickly they begin to snore. 

Add too, what certain writers tell,

With this he drives men’s souls to hell.
Now to apply, begin we then;

His wand’s a modern author’s pen;

The serpents round about it twin’d 

Denote him of the reptile kind;

Denote the rage with which he writes,

His frothy slaver, venom’d bites;

An equal semblance still to keep,

Alike too both conduce to sleep. 

This diff’rence only, as the god

Drove souls to Tart’rus with his rod,

With his goosequill the scribbling elf,

Instead of others, damns himself.
And here my simile almost tript, 

Yet grant a word by way of postscript.

Moreover, Merc’ry had a failing:

Well! what of that? out with it–stealing;

In which all modern bards agree,

Being each as great a thief as he: 

But ev’n this deity’s existence

Shall lend my simile assistance.

Our modern bards! why what a pox

Are they but senseless stones and blocks? 

Poem – Memory 

O MEMORY, thou fond deceiver,

Still importunate and vain,

To former joys recurring ever,

And turning all the past to pain:
Thou, like the world, th’ oppress’d oppressing,

Thy smiles increase the wretch’s woe:

And he who wants each other blessing

In thee must ever find a foe. 

Poem – Translation 

CHASTE are their instincts, faithful is their fire,
No foreign beauty tempts to false desire;

The snow-white vesture, and the glittering crown,

The simple plumage, or the glossy down

Prompt not their loves:– the patriot bird pursues 

His well acquainted tints, and kindred hues.

Hence through their tribes no mix’d polluted flame,

No monster-breed to mark the groves with shame;

But the chaste blackbird, to its partner true,

Thinks black alone is beauty’s favourite hue. 

The nightingale, with mutual passion blest,

Sings to its mate, and nightly charms the nest;

While the dark owl to court its partner flies,

And owns its offspring in their yellow eyes. 

Poem – The Village Schoolmaster

Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way

With blossom’d furze unprofitably gay,

There, in his noisy mansion, skill’d to rule,

The village master taught his little school;

A man severe he was, and stern to view,

I knew him well, and every truant knew;

Well had the boding tremblers learn’d to trace

The days disasters in his morning face;

Full well they laugh’d with counterfeited glee,

At all his jokes, for many a joke had he:

Full well the busy whisper, circling round,

Convey’d the dismal tidings when he frown’d:

Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,

The love he bore to learning was in fault.

The village all declar’d how much he knew;

‘Twas certain he could write, and cipher too:

Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,

And e’en the story ran that he could gauge.

In arguing too, the parson own’d his skill,

For e’en though vanquish’d he could argue still;

While words of learned length and thund’ring sound

Amazed the gazing rustics rang’d around;

And still they gaz’d and still the wonder grew,

That one small head could carry all he knew.

But past is all his fame. The very spot

Where many a time he triumph’d is forgot. 

Poem – When Lovely Woman Stoops to Folly

When lovely woman stoops to folly,

And finds too late that men betray,

What charm can soothe her melancholy,

What art can wash her guilt away?
The only art her guilt to cover,

To hide her shame from every eye,

To give repentance to her lover,

And wring his bosom, is—to die. 

Poem – The Clown’s Reply

JOHN TROTT was desired by two witty peers

To tell them the reason why asses had ears?

‘An’t please you,’ quoth John, ‘I’m not given to letters,

Nor dare I pretend to know more than my betters;

Howe’er, from this time I shall ne’er see your graces, 

As I hope to be saved! without thinking on asses.’ 

Poem – The Haunch of Venison 

THANKS, my Lord, for your venison, for finer or fatter

Never rang’d in a forest, or smok’d in a platter;

The haunch was a picture for painters to study,

The fat was so white, and the lean was so ruddy.

Though my stomach was sharp, I could scarce help regretting 

To spoil such a delicate picture by eating;

I had thoughts, in my chambers, to place it in view,

To be shown to my friends as a piece of ‘virtu’;

As in some Irish houses, where things are so so,

One gammon of bacon hangs up for a show: 

But for eating a rasher of what they take pride in,

They’d as soon think of eating the pan it is fried in.

But hold — let me pause — Don’t I hear you pronounce

This tale of the bacon a damnable bounce?

Well, suppose it a bounce — sure a poet may try, 

By a bounce now and then, to get courage to fly.
But, my Lord, it’s no bounce: I protest in my turn,

It’s a truth — and your Lordship may ask Mr. Byrne.

To go on with my tale — as I gaz’d on the haunch,

I thought of a friend that was trusty and staunch; 

So I cut it, and sent it to Reynolds undress’d,

To paint it, or eat it, just as he lik’d best.

Of the neck and the breast I had next to dispose;

‘Twas a neck and a breast — that might rival M–r–‘s:

But in parting with these I was puzzled again, 

With the how, and the who, and the where, and the when.

There’s H–d, and C–y, and H–rth, and H–ff,

I think they love venison — I know they love beef;

There’s my countryman H–gg–ns– Oh! let him alone,

For making a blunder, or picking a bone. 

But hang it — to poets who seldom can eat,

Your very good mutton’s a very good treat;

Such dainties to them, their health it might hurt,

It’s like sending them ruffles, when wanting a shirt.

While thus I debated, in reverie centred, 

An acquaintance, a friend as he call’d himself, enter’d;

An under-bred, fine-spoken fellow was he,

And he smil’d as he look’d at the venison and me.

‘What have we got here? — Why, this is good eating!

Your own, I suppose — or is it in waiting?’ 

‘Why, whose should it be?’ cried I with a flounce,

‘I get these things often;’ — but that was a bounce:

‘Some lords, my acquaintance, that settle the nation,

Are pleas’d to be kind — but I hate ostentation.’
‘If that be the case, then,’ cried he, very gay, 

‘I’m glad I have taken this house in my way.

To-morrow you take a poor dinner with me;

No words — I insist on’t — precisely at three:

We’ll have Johnson, and Burke; all the wits will be there;

My acquaintance is slight, or I’d ask my Lord Clare. 

And now that I think on’t, as I am a sinner!

We wanted this venison to make out the dinner.

What say you — a pasty? it shall, and it must,

And my wife, little Kitty, is famous for crust.

Here, porter! — this venison with me to Mile-end; 

No stirring — I beg — my dear friend — my dear friend!

Thus snatching his hat, he brush’d off like the wind,

And the porter and eatables follow’d behind.
Left alone to reflect, having emptied my shelf,

‘And nobody with me at sea but myself’; 

Though I could not help thinking my gentleman hasty,

Yet Johnson, and Burke, and a good venison pasty,

Were things that I never dislik’d in my life,

Though clogg’d with a coxcomb, and Kitty his wife.

So next day, in due splendour to make my approach, 

I drove to his door in my own hackney coach.
When come to the place where we all were to dine,

(A chair-lumber’d closet just twelve feet by nine

My friend bade me welcome, but struck me quite dumb,

With tidings that Johnson and Burke would not come; 

‘For I knew it,’ he cried, ‘both eternally fail,

The one with his speeches, and t’other with Thrale;

But no matter, I’ll warrant we’ll make up the party

With two full as clever, and ten times as hearty.

The one is a Scotchman, the other a Jew, 

They’re both of them merry and authors like you;

The one writes the ‘Snarler’, the other the ‘Scourge’;

Some think he writes ‘Cinna’ — he own to ‘Panurge’.’

While thus he describ’d them by trade, and by name,

They enter’d and dinner was serv’d as they came. 
At the top a fried liver and bacon were seen,

At the bottom was tripe in a swinging tureen;

At the sides there was spinach and pudding made hot;

In the middle a place where the pasty — was not.

Now, my Lord as for tripe, it’s my utter aversion, 

And your bacon I hate like a Turk or a Persian;

So there I sat stuck, like a horse in a pound,

While the bacon and liver went merrily round.

But what vex’d me most was that d–‘d Scottish rogue,

With his long-winded speeches, his smiles and his brogue; 

And, ‘Madam,’ quoth he, ‘may this bit be my poison,

A prettier dinner I never set eyes on;

Pray a slice of your liver, though may I be curs’d,

But I’ve eat of your tripe till I’m ready to burst.;

‘The tripe,’ quoth the Jew, with his chocolate cheek, 

‘I could dine on this tripe seven days in the week:

I like these here dinners so pretty and small;

But your friend there, the Doctor, eats nothing at all.’

‘O–Oh!’ quoth my friend, ‘he’ll come on in a trice,

He’s keeping a corner for something that’s nice: 

There’s a pasty’ — ‘A pasty!’ repeated the Jew,

‘I don’t care if I keep a corner for’t too.’

‘What the de’il, mon, a pasty!’ re-echoed the Scot,

‘Though splitting, I’ll still keep a corner for thot.’

‘We’ll all keep a corner,’ the lady cried out; 

‘We’ll all keep a corner,’ was echoed about.

While thus we resolv’d, and the pasty delay’d,

With look that quite petrified, enter’d the maid;

A visage so sad, and so pale with affright,

Wak’d Priam in drawing his curtains by night. 

But we quickly found out, for who could mistake her?

That she came with some terrible news from the baker:

And so it fell out, for that negligent sloven

Had shut out the pasty on shutting his oven

Sad Philomel thus — but let similes drop — 

And now that I think on’t, the story may stop.

To be plain, my good Lord, it’s but labour misplac’d

To send such good verses to one of your taste;

You’ve got an odd something — a kind of discerning —

A relish — a taste — sicken’d over by learning; 

At least, it’s your temper, as very well known,

That you think very slightly of all that’s your own:

So, perhaps, in your habits of thinking amiss,

You may make a mistake, and think slightly of this.