La gola e 'l sonno e l' oziose piume
TO A FRIEND, ENCOURAGING HIM TO PURSUE POETRY.
Torn is each virtue from its earthly throne
By sloth, intemperance, and voluptuous ease;
E'en nature deviates from her wonted ways,
Too much the slave of vicious custom grown.
Far hence is every light celestial gone,
That guides mankind through life's perplexing maze;
And those, whom Helicon's sweet waters please,
From mocking crowds receive contempt alone.
Who now would laurel, myrtle-wreaths obtain?
Let want, let shame, Philosophy attend!
Cries the base world, intent on sordid gain.
What though thy favourite path be trod by few;
Let it but urge thee more, dear gentle friend!
Thy great design of glory to pursue.
Intemperance, slumber, and the slothful down
Have chased each virtue from this world away;
Hence is our nature nearly led astray
From its due course, by habitude o'erthrown;
Those kindly lights of heaven so dim are grown,
Which shed o'er human life instruction's ray;
That him with scornful wonder they survey,
Who would draw forth the stream of Helicon.
"Whom doth the laurel please, or myrtle now?
Naked and poor, Philosophy, art thou!"
The worthless crowd, intent on lucre, cries.
Few on thy chosen road will thee attend;
Yet let it more incite thee, gentle friend,
To prosecute thy high-conceived emprize.