Hannah More

(1745-1833 / England)

Ode To Dragon


Dragon! since lyrics are the mode,
To thee I dedicate my Ode,
And reason good I plead:
Are those who cannot write, to blame
To draw their hopes of future fame,
From those who cannot read?

O could I, like that nameless wight,
Find the choice minute when to write,
The
mollia tempora fandi
!
Like his my muse should learn to whistle
A true
Heroical Epistle
,
In strains which never can die.

Father of lyrics, tuneful Horace!
Can thy great shade do nothing for us
To men the British lyre?
Our luckless Bards have broke the strings,
Seiz'd the scar'd muses, pluck'd their wings,
And put out all their fire.

Dragon! thou tyrant of the yard,
Great namesake of that furious guard
That watch'd the fruits Hesperian!
Thy choicer treasures safely keep,
Nor snatch one moment's guilty sleep,

O Dragon! change with me thy fate,
To me give up thy place and state,
And I will give thee mine:
I, left to think, and thou to feed!
My mind enlarged, thy body freed,
How bless'd
my
lot and
thine
!

Then shalt thou scent the rich regale
Of turtle and diluting ale,
Nay, share the savoury bit;
And see, what thou hast never seen,
For thou hast but at Hampton been,
A feat devoid of wit.

Oft shalt thou snuff the smoking venison,
Devour'd,
alone
, by hungry denizen.
So fresh, thou'lt long to tear it;
Though Flaccus tells a different tale
Of social souls who chose it stale,
Because their
friends
should share it.

And then on me what joys would wait,
Were I the guardian of thy gate,
How useless bolt and latch!
How vain were locks, and bars how vain,
To shield from harm the household train
Whom I, from love, would watch.

Not that 'twould crown with joy my life,
That Bowden, or that Bowden's wife,
Brought me my daily pickings;
Though she, accelerating Fate,
Decrees the scanty mortal date
Of turkeys and of chickens!

Though fired with innocent ambition,
Bowden, great Nature's rhetorician,
More flowers than Burke produces;
And though he's skill'd more roots to find,
Than ever stock'd an Hebrew's mind,
And knows their various uses.

I'd get my master's ways by rote,
Ne'er would I bark at ragged coat,
Nor tear the tatter'd sinner;
Like him, I'd love the dog of merit,
Caress the cur of broken spirit,
And give them all a dinner.

Nor let me pair his blue-eyed Dame
With Venus' or Minerva's name,
One warrior, one coquet;
No; Pallas and the Queen of Beauty
Shunn'd, or betray'd that nuptial duty,
Which
she
so high has set.

Whene'er I heard the rattling coach
Proclaim their long-desired approach,
How would I haste to greet them!
Nor ever feel I wore a chain,
Till, starting, I perceived with pain
I could not fly to meet them.

The master loves his sylvan shades,
Here, with the nine melodious maids,
His choicest hours are spent:
Yet shall I hear some witling cry,
(Such witling from my presence fly!)
'Garrick will soon repent:

'Again you'll see him, never fear;
Some half a dozen times a year
He still will charm the age;
Accustom'd long to be admired,
Of shades and streams he'll soon be tired,
And languish for the stage.'

Peace! - To his solitude he bears
The full-blown fame of thirty years.
He bears a nation's praise:
He bears his liberal, polish'd mind,
His worth, his wit, his sense refined;
He bears his well-earn'd Bays.

When warm admirers drop a tear
Because this sun has left his sphere,
And set before his time;
I, who have felt and loved his rays,
What
they
condemn will loudly praise,
And call the deed sublime.

How wise! long pamper'd with applause,
To make a voluntary pause
And lay his laurels down!
Boldly repelling each strong claim,
To dare assert to Wealth and Fame,
'Enough of both I've known.'

How wise! a short retreat to steal,
The vanity of life to feel,
And from its cares to fly;
To act one calm, domestic scene,
Earth's bustle and the grave between,
Retire and learn to die!

Submitted: Thursday, September 16, 2010

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