WEary, at last of the Pindarick Way


The Critick and the Writer of FABLES.

Primary Text:

No MS; 1713 Misc, 162-5*.

[Page 162]

Weary, at last, of the Pindarick way,
Thro' which advent'rously the Muse wou'd stray;
To Fable I descend with soft Delight,
Pleas'd to Translate, or easily Endite:

[Page 163]

Whilst aery Fictions hastily repair
To fill my Page, and rid my Thoughts of Care,
As they to Birds and Beasts new Gifts impart,
And Teach, as Poets shou'd, whilst they Divert.

But here, the Critick bids me check this Vein.
Fable, he crys, tho' grown th' affected Strain,
But dies, as it was born, without Regard or Pain.
Whilst of his Aim the lazy Trifler fails,
Who seeks to purchase Fame by childish Tales.

Then, let my Verse, once more attempt the Skies,
The easily persuaded Poet cries,
Since meaner Works you Men of Taste despise.
The Walls of Troy shall be our loftier Stage,
Our mighty Theme the fierce Achilles Rage.
The Strength of Hector, and Ulysses Arts
Shall boast such Language, to adorn their Parts,

[Page 164]

As neither Hobbes, nor Chapman cou'd bestow,
Or did from Congreve, or from Dryden flow.
Amidst her Towers, the dedicated Horse
Shall be receiv'd, big with destructive Force;
Till Men shall say, when Flames have brought her down.
" Troy is no more, and Ilium was a Town.

Is this the way to please the Men of Taste,
The Interrupter cries, this old Bombast?
I'm sick of Troy, and in as great a Fright,
When some dull Pedant wou'd her Wars recite,
As was soft Paris, when compell'd to Fight.

To Shades and Springs shall we awhile repair,
The Muse demands, and in that milder Air
Describe some gentle Swain's unhappy Smart
Whose folded Arms still press upon his Heart,
And deeper drive the too far enter'd Dart?
Whilst Phillis with a careless pleasure reigns
The Joy, the Grief, the Envy of the Plains;

[Page 165]

Heightens the Beauty of the verdant Woods,
And softens all the Murmurs of the Floods.

Oh! stun me not with these insipid Dreams,
Th' Eternal Hush, the Lullaby of Streams.
Which still, he cries, their even Measures keep,
Till both the Writers, and the Readers sleep.
But urge thy Pen, if thou wouldst move our Thoughts,
To shew us private, or the publick Faults.
Display the Times, High-Church or Low provoke;
We'll praise the Weapon, as we like the Stroke,
And warmly sympathizing with the Spite
Apply to Thousands, what of One you write.

Then, must that single Stream the Town supply,
The harmless Fable-writer do's reply,
And all the Rest of Helicon be dry ?
And when so many choice Productions swarm,
Must only Satire keep your Fancies warm?

[Page 166]

Whilst even there, you praise with such Reserve,
As if you'd in the midst of Plenty starve,
Tho' ne'er so liberally we Authors carve.

Happy the Men, whom we divert with Ease,
Opera's and Panegyricks please.

Secondary Eds:

Rpt of 1713: 1903 Reynolds, 162-5; rpt of 1903 Reynolds: 1979 Rogers AF, 106-8.


La Fontaine, Fables, "Contre ceux qui ont le gout difficile," II, 1, 59-60.


This may have been originally meant to be a preface to a whole book of fables by Finch. She takes it from a fable La Fontaine used as a preface for his second book. La Fontaine produces an ironic rejection of texts done in difficult genres. Finch expands his original continually. She uses the fables to tell the reader she is now abjuring the older forms she loved: pindaric odes, classical subjects, pastorals. These no longer please. People want only satire -- as well as"Opera's and Panegyricks." The poem reveals that Finch at one time thought would, in the fashion of the 1710's, publish a book made only of fables. She changed her mind. She wanted to write in the other forms. It's interesting that the preface is written as an insult to the expected reader. Pope's irritation with the public literary marketplace was shared by other poets. It had begun to shape what could be produced.
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