Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

-Verses sent to the Dean

On his Birthday


(Horace speaking.)

You've read, sir, in poetic strain,
How Varus and the Mantuan swain
Have on my birth-day been invited,
(But I was forced in verse to write it,)
Upon a plain repast to dine,
And taste my old Campanian wine;
But I, who all punctilios hate,
Though long familiar with the great,
Nor glory in my reputation,
Am come without an invitation;
And, though I'm used to right Falernian,
I'll deign for once to taste Iernian;
But fearing that you might dispute
(Had I put on my common suit)
My breeding and my politesse,
I visit in my birth-day dress:
My coat of purest Turkey red,
With gold embroidery richly spread;
To which I've sure as good pretensions,
As Irish lords who starve on pensions.
What though proud ministers of state
Did at your antichamber wait;
What though your Oxfords and your St. Johns,
Have at your levee paid attendance,
And Peterborough and great Ormond,
With many chiefs who now are dormant,
Have laid aside the general's staff,
And public cares, with you to laugh;
Yet I some friends as good can name,
Nor less the darling sons of fame;
For sure my Pollio and Maecenas
Were as good statesmen, Mr. Dean, as
Either your Bolingbroke or Harley,
Though they made Lewis beg a parley;
And as for Mordaunt,[2] your loved hero,
I'll match him with my Drusus Nero.
You'll boast, perhaps, your favourite Pope;
But Virgil is as good, I hope.
I own indeed I can't get any
To equal Helsham and Delany;
Since Athens brought forth Socrates,
A Grecian isle, Hippocrates;
Since Tully lived before my time,
And Galen bless'd another clime.

You'll plead, perhaps, at my request, To be admitted as a guest, "Your hearing's bad!"--But why such fears? I speak to eyes, and not to ears; And for that reason wisely took The form you see me in, a book. Attack'd by slow devouring moths, By rage of barbarous Huns and Goths; By Bentley's notes, my deadliest foes, By Creech's[3] rhymes, and Dunster's[4] prose; I found my boasted wit and fire In their rude hands almost expire: Yet still they but in vain assail'd; For, had their violence prevail'd, And in a blast destroy'd my frame, They would have partly miss'd their aim; Since all my spirit in thy page Defies the Vandals of this age. 'Tis yours to save these small remains From future pedant's muddy brains, And fix my long uncertain fate, You best know how--"which way?"--TRANSLATE.

[Footnote 1: This ingenious young gentleman was unfortunately murdered in Italy.--Scott.]

[Footnote 2: See verses to the Earl of Peterborough, ante, p. 48.--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 3: The translator and editor of Lucretius and Horace.--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 4: Who put forth, in 1710, the "Satyrs and Epistles of Horace, done into English," of which a second edition was published in 1717, with the addition of the "Art of Poetry." His versions were well satirized by the wits of the time, one of whom, Dr. T. Francklin, wrote:

"O'er Tibur's swan the Muses wept in vain,
And mourned their bard by cruel Dunster slain."
Dict. Nat. Biog.--W. E. B.]

Jonathan Swift

Sorry, no summary available yet.