The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/Answer to some Elegant Verses
ANSWER TO SOME ELEGANT VERSES SENT BY A FRIEND TO THE AUTHOR, COMPLAINING THAT ONE OF HIS DESCRIPTIONS WAS RATHER TOO WARMLY DRAWN.
"But if any old Lady, Knight, Priest, or Physician,
Should condemn me for printing a second edition;
If good Madam Squintum my work should abuse,
May I venture to give her a smack of my muse?"
Anstey's New Bath Guide, p. 169.
Candour compels me, Becher! to commend
The verse, which blends the censor with the friend;
Your Strong yet just reproof extorts applause
From me, the heedless and imprudent cause;
For this wild error, which pervades my strain,
I sue for pardon,—must I sue in vain?
The wise sometimes from Wisdom's ways depart;
Can youth then hush the dictates of the heart?
Precepts of prudence curb, but can't controul,
The fierce emotions of the flowing soul.
When Love's delirium haunts the glowing mind,
Limping Decorum lingers far behind;
Vainly the dotard mends her prudish pace,
Outstript and vanquish'd in the mental chase.
The young, the old, have worn the chains of love;
Let those, they ne'er confined, my lay reprove;
Let those, whose souls contemn the pleasing power,
Their censures on the hapless victim shower.
Oh! how I hate the nerveless, frigid song,
The ceaseless echo of the rhyming throng,
Whose labour'd lines, in chilling numbers flow,
To paint a pang the author ne'er can know!
The artless Helicon, I boast, is youth;—
My Lyre, the Heart—my Muse, the simple Truth.
Far be't from me the "virgin's mind" to "taint:"
Seduction's dread is here no slight restraint:
The maid whose virgin breast is void of guile,
Whose wishes dimple in a modest smile,
Whose downcast eye disdains the wanton leer,
Firm in her virtue's strength, yet not severe;
She, whom a conscious grace shall thus refine,
Will ne'er be "tainted" by a strain of mine.
But, for the nymph whose premature desires
Torment her bosom with unholy fires,
No net to snare her willing heart is spread;
She would have fallen, though she ne'er had read.
For me, I fain would please the chosen few,
Whose souls, to feeling and to nature true,
Will spare the childish verse, and not destroy
The light effusions of a heedless boy.
I seek not glory from the senseless crowd;
Of fancied laurels, I shall ne'er be proud;
Their warmest plaudits I would scarcely prize,
Their sneers or censures, I alike despise.
November 26, 1806.
- —— the heedless and unworthy cause.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
- For this sole error.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
- The light effusions of an amorous boy.—[P. on V. Occasions.]