The Birth Of Flattery

Muse of my Spenser, who so well could sing
The passions all, their bearings and their ties;
Who could in view those shadowy beings bring,
And with bold hand remove each dark disguise,
Wherein love, hatred, scorn, or anger lies:
Guide him to Fairy-land, who now intends
That way his flight; assist him as he flies,
To mark those passions, Virtue's foes and friends,
By whom when led she droops, when leading she ascends.
Yes! they appear, I see the fairy train!
And who that modest nymph of meek address?
Not vanity, though loved by all the vain;
Not Hope, though promising to all success;
Not Mirth, nor Joy, though foe to all distress;
Thee, sprightly syren, from this train I choose,
Thy birth relate, thy soothing arts confess;
'Tis not in thy mild nature to refuse,
When poets ask thine aid, so oft their meed and muse.


In Fairy-land, on wide and cheerless plain,
Dwelt, in the house of Care a sturdy swain;
A hireling he, who, when he till'd the soil,
Look'd to the pittance that repaid his toil,
And to a master left the mingled joy
And anxious care that follow'd his employ.
Sullen and patient he at once appear'd,
As one who murmur'd, yet as one who fear'd;
Th'attire was coarse that clothed his sinewy frame,
Rude his address, and Poverty his name.
In that same plain a nymph, of curious taste,
A cottage (plann'd, with all her skill) had placed;
Strange the materials, and for what design'd
The various parts, no simple man might find;
What seem'd the door, each entering guest withstood,
What seem'd a window was but painted wood;
But by a secret spring the wall would move,
And daylight drop through glassy door above:
'Twas all her pride, new traps for praise to lay,
And all her wisdom was to hide her way;
In small attempts incessant were her pains,
And Cunning was her name among the swains.
Now, whether fate decreed this pair should wed,
And blindly drove them to the marriage bed;
Or whether love in some soft hour inclined
The damsel's heart, and won her to be kind,
Is yet unsung: they were an ill-match'd pair,
But both disposed to wed--and wed they were.
Yet, though united in their fortune, still
Their ways were diverse; varying was their will;
Nor long the maid had bless'd the simple man,
Before dissensions rose, and she began: -
'Wretch that I am! since to thy fortune bound,
What plan, what project, with success is crown'd?
I, who a thousand secret arts possess,
Who every rank approach with right address;
Who've loosed a guinea from a miser's chest,
And worm'd his secret from a traitor's breast;
Thence gifts and gains collecting, great and small,
Have brought to thee, and thou consum'st them all;
For want like thine--a bog without a base -
Ingulfs all gains I gather for the place;
Feeding, unfill'd; destroying, undestroy'd;
It craves for ever, and is ever void: -
Wretch that I am! what misery have I found,
Since my sure craft was to thy calling bound!'
'Oh! vaunt of worthless art,' the swain replied,
Scowling contempt, 'how pitiful this pride!
What are these specious gifts, these paltry gains,
But base rewards for ignominious pains?
With all thy tricking, still for bread we strive,
Thine is, proud wretch! the care that cannot thrive;
By all thy boasted skill and baffled hooks,
Thou gain'st no more than students by their books.
No more than I for my poor deeds am paid,
Whom none can blame, will help, or dare upbraid.
'Call this our need, a bog that all devours, -
Then what thy petty arts, but summer-flowers,
Gaudy and mean, and serving to betray
The place they make unprofitably gay?
Who know it not, some useless beauties see, -
But ah! to prove it was reserved for me.'
Unhappy state! that, in decay of love,
Permits harsh truth his errors to disprove;
While he remains, to wrangle and to jar,
Is friendly tournament, not fatal war;
Love in his play will borrow arms of hate,
Anger and rage, upbraiding and debate;
And by his power the desperate weapons thrown,
Become as safe and pleasant as his own;
But left by him, their natures they assume,
And fatal, in their poisoning force, become.
Time fled, and now the swain compell'd to see
New cause for fear--'Is this thy thrift?' quoth he,
To whom the wife with cheerful voice replied: -
'Thou moody man, lay all thy fears aside;
I've seen a vision--they, from whom I came,
A daughter promise, promise wealth and fame;
Born with my features, with my arts, yet she
Shall patient, pliant, persevering be,
And in thy better ways resemble thee.
The fairies round shal
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

4:07 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,388
Words 802
Stanzas 2
Stanza Lengths 18, 82

George Crabbe

George Crabbe was an English poet, surgeon, and clergyman. more…

All George Crabbe poems | George Crabbe Books

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