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Elegy I: By Dryden

For mighty wars I thought to tune my lute,
And make my measures to my subject suit.
Six feet for ev'ry verse the muse design'd,
But Cupid laughing, when he saw my mind,
From ev'ry second verse a foot purloin'd.
"Who gave thee, boy, this arbitrary sway,
On subjects, not thy own, commands to lay,
Who Phoebus only, and his laws obey ?
'Tis more absurd, than if the queen of love
Should in Minerva's arms to battle move;
Or manly Pallas from that queen should take
Her torch, and o'er the dying lover shake.
In fields as well may Cynthia sow the corn,
Or Ceres wind in woods the bugle-horn;
As well may Phoebus quit the trembling string,
For sword and shield; and Mars may learn to sing.
Already thy dominions are too large;
Be not ambitious of a foreign charge.
If thou wilt reign o'er all, and ev'ry where,
The god of music for his harp may fear.
Thus when with soaring wings I seek renown,
Thou pluck'st my pinions, and I flutter down.
Could I on such mean thoughts my muse employ,
I want a mistress, or a blooming boy."
Thus I complain'd; his bow the stripling bent,
And chose an arrow fit for his intent.
The shaft his purpose fatally pursues;
" Now, poet, there's a subject for thy muse,"
He said: (too well, alas, he knows his trade,)
For in my breast a mortal wound he made.
Far hence ye proud Hexameters remove,
My verse is pac'd, and tramell'd into love.
With myrtle wreaths my thoughtful brows enclose,
While in unequal verse I sing my woes.

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Sulpicia, Carmina Omnia, 1
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DOMUS
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