The Atheist and the Acorn

Methinks this World is oddly made,
  And ev’ry thing’s amiss,
A dull presuming Atheist said,
As stretch’d he lay beneath a Shade;
  And instanced in this:

Behold, quoth he, that mighty thing,
  A Pumpkin, large and round,
Is held but by a little String,
Which upwards cannot make it spring,
  Or bear it from the Ground.

Whilst on this Oak, a Fruit so small,
  So disproportion’d, grows;
That, who with Sence surveys this All,
This universal Casual Ball,
  Its ill Contrivance knows.

My better Judgment wou’d have hung
  That Weight upon a Tree,
And left this Mast, thus slightly strung,
‘Mongst things which on the Surface sprung,
  And small and feeble be.

No more the Caviller cou’d say,
  Nor farther Faults descry;
For, as he upwards gazing lay,
An Acorn, loosen’d from the Stay,
  Fell down upon his Eye.

Th’ offended Part with Tears ran o’er,
  As punish’d for the Sin:
Fool! had that Bough a Pumpkin bore,
Thy Whimseys must have work’d no more,
  Nor Scull had kept them in.

 

Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
16611720

 

 

Pope’s Poetic Pastures (Pt II)

If we would copy nature, it may be useful to take this idea along with us, that Pastoral is an image of what they call the golden age: so that we are not to describe our shepherds as shepherds at this day really are, but as they may be conceived then to have been, when the best of men followed the employment. To carry this resemblance yet further, it would not be amiss to give these shepherds some skill in astronomy, as far as it may be useful to that sort of life; and an air of piety to the gods should shine through the poem, which so visibly appears in all the works of antiquity; and it ought to preserve some relish of the old way of writing: the connection should be loose, the narrations and descriptions short, and the periods concise. Yet it is not sufficient that the sentences only be brief; the whole eclogue should be so too: for we cannot suppose poetry in those days to have been the business of men, but their recreation at vacant hours.

But, with respect to the present age, nothing more conduces to make these composures natural, than when some knowledge in rural affairs is discovered. This may be made to appear rather done by chance than on design, and sometimes is best shown by inference; lest, by too much study to seem natural, we destroy that easy simplicity from whence arises the delight. For what is inviting in this sort of poetry proceeds not so much from the idea of that business, as of the tranquillity of a country life.

Pope’s Poetic Pastures

 

The origin of Poetry is ascribed to that age which succeeded the creation of the world: and as the keeping of flocks seems to have been the first employment of mankind, the most ancient sort of poetry was probably pastoral. It is natural to imagine, that the leisure of those ancient shepherds admitting and inviting some diversion, none was so proper to that solitary and sedentary life as singing; and that in their songs they took occasion to celebrate their own felicity. From hence a poem was invented, and afterwards improved to a perfect image of that happy time; which, by giving us an esteem for the virtues of a former age, might recommend them to the present. And since the life of shepherds was attended with more tranquillity than any other rural employment, the poets chose to introduce their persons, from whom it received the name of Pastoral.

A Pastoral is an imitation of the action of a shepherd, or one considered under that character. The form of this imitation is dramatic, or narrative, or mixed of both: the fable simple, the manners not too polite nor too rustic: the thoughts are plain, yet admit a little quickness and passion, but that short and flowing: the expression humble, yet as pure as the language will afford; neat, but not florid; easy, and yet lively. In short, the fable, manners, thoughts, and expressions are full of the greatest simplicity in nature.

The complete character of this poem consists in simplicity, brevity, and delicacy; the two first of which render an eclogue natural, and the last delightful.

Homegirl Got Her Own Channel


Anne Finch
droppin’ lyrics like a Countess, y’all . . .

 

Fair tree! for thy delightful shade
‘Tis just that some return be made;
Sure some return is due from me
To thy cool shadows, and to thee.
When thou to birds dost shelter give,
Thou music dost from them receive;
If travellers beneath thee stay
Till storms have worn themselves away,
That time in praising thee they spend
And thy protecting pow’r commend.
The shepherd here, from scorching freed,
Tunes to thy dancing leaves his reed;
Whilst his lov’d nymph, in thanks, bestows
Her flow’ry chaplets on thy boughs.
Shall I then only silent be,
And no return be made by me?
No; let this wish upon thee wait,
And still to flourish be thy fate.
To future ages may’st thou stand
Untouch’d by the rash workman’s hand,
Till that large stock of sap is spent,
Which gives thy summer’s ornament;
Till the fierce winds, that vainly strive
To shock thy greatness whilst alive,
Shall on thy lifeless hour attend,
Prevent the axe, and grace thy end;
Their scatter’d strength together call
And to the clouds proclaim thy fall;
Who then their ev’ning dews may spare
When thou no longer art their care,
But shalt, like ancient heroes, burn,
And some bright hearth be made thy urn.

 

Because she was :

Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
1661–1720