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On The Number Three

Thomas Parnell 1679 (Dublin) – 1718



Beauty rests not in one fix'd Place,
But seems to reign in every Face;
'Tis nothing sure, but Fancy then,
In various Forms bewitching Men;
Or is it Shape and Colour fram'd,
Proportion just, and woman nam'd?
If Fancy only rul'd in Love,
Why shou'd it then so strongly move?
Or why shou'd all that Look, agree
To own its mighty Pow'r in three?
In Three it shews a different Face,
Each shining with peculiar Grace;
Kindred a Native Likeness gives,
Which pleases, as in All it lives;
And where the Features disagree,
We praise the dear Variety.
Then Beauty surely ne'er was yet,
So much unlike it self and so complete.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Thomas Parnell

Thomas Parnell was an Anglo-Irish poet and clergyman who was a friend of both Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. He was the son of Thomas Parnell of Maryborough, Queen's County now Port Laoise, County Laoise}, a prosperous landowner who had been a loyal supporter of Cromwell during the English Civil War and moved to Ireland after the restoration of the monarchy. Thomas was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and collated archdeacon of Clogher in 1705. He however spent much of his time in London, where he participated with Pope, Swift and others in the Scriblerus Club, contributing to The Spectator and aiding Pope in his translation of The Iliad. He was also one of the so-called "Graveyard poets": his 'A Night-Piece on Death,' widely considered the first "Graveyard School" poem, was published posthumously in Poems on Several Occasions, collected and edited by Alexander Pope and is thought by some scholars to have been published in December of 1721 (although dated in 1722 on its title page, the year accepted by The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature; see 1721 in poetry, 1722 in poetry). It is said of his poetry 'it was in keeping with his character, easy and pleasing, ennunciating the common places with felicity and grace. more…

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