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Yet as I read, ftill growing less severe,
Or if a work fo infinite he spann'd,
Pardon me, mighty Poet; nor despise
That majesty which through thy work doth reign,
[iv] Where couldft thou words of such a compass find Whence furnish such a vast expence of mind ? Just Heaven thee, like Tiresias, to requite Rewards with prophecy thy loss of fight.
Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rhyme, of thy own sense secure; While the town-bays writes all the while and spells, And like a pack-horse tires without his bells: Their fancies like our bushy-points appear, The poets tag them, we for fashion wear. I too, transported by the mode, offend, And while I meant to praise thee must commend. Thy verse created like thy theme sublime, Number, weight, and measure, needs not rhyme.
To Mr. JOHN MILTON, On his Poem entitled PARADISE LOST. O
Thou! the wonder of the present age,
An age immerft in luxury and vice;
F. C. 1680.
HE measure is English heroic verse without
rhyme, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin ; rhyme being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame meter; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse than else they would have expreffed them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rhyme both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned Ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then VoL, I. B
of rhyme so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be efteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem, from the troublesome and modern bondage of rhyming.