Exert thy voyce, sweet Harbinger of Spring


To the Nightingale.

Primary Text:

MS Folger, 294-5.*
Exert thy Voyce, sweet Harbinger of Spring,
This moment, is thy time to Sing:
This moment, I attend to praise,
And sett my numbers to thy Layes;
Free, as thine, shall be my Song,
As thy Tune, concise, or long;
If, thou Repetition try,
Verse redoubl'd shall reply;
Poets, wild as thee were born,
Pleasing best, when unconfind,
When to please is least dessign'd,
Soothing but their cares to rest,
(Cares do still their thoughts molest)
And still the anxious Poets breast
Like thine, when best he sings, is plac'd against a Thorn.

She begins, lett all be still.
Muse, thy promise, now, fulfill.
Sweet, oh! sweet, still sweeter yett,
Can thy words such accents hitt?
Can'st thou Syllables refine,
Melt a sense, which shall retain
Still some spirit of the brain,
'Till with sounds like these, itt joyn?
'Twill not be; then change thy Noat,
Let division shake thy Throat,
Hark! division now she tries,
Yet, as far the Muse outflies,
Prythee, cease, then cease thy Tune,
Trifler, wilt thou sing 'till June,
'Till thy business all lyes waste,
And the time of Building's past,
Hiding thus, in night, thy head,
Sure, thou'rt to some Faction wed,
Or to false opinions bred.
Thus, we poets, that have speech,
(Far from what thy forests teach)
If a fluent vein be shown,
But transcendent to our own, --
Criticise, reform, or preach,
Or censure, what we cannot reach

(MS Folger, pp. 294-95)

Secondary Eds:

1713 Misc, 200-2; rpt of 1713: 1903 Reynolds, 267-8; rpts of 1903 Reynolds: 1928 Murray, 86-7; 1930 Fausset, 115-6; 1979 Rogers AF, 154-5; 1987 Thompson, 67-8.


Rpt of 1713: 1880 Ward, 29.


Rpts of 1713/1903: 1905 Tutin, 16-7; 1918 Bernbaum (via 1880 Ward), 74; 1932 Crane, 538-9; 1939 Bredvold, 155; 1968 Swedenberg, 303-4; 1972 Stanford (via 1928 Murray), 78-9; 1973 Goulianos, 82-3; 1975 Kaplan, 70-1; 1979 Rogers Six Women, 21; 1985 Gilbert/Gubar, 110-1; 1990 Fullard, 236; 1990 Lonsdale, 20; 1991 Uphaus/Foster, 176-7.


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