General Editor: Marc R. Plamondon

Representative Poetry Online, edition 6.0, is a web anthology of 4,800 poems in English and French by over 700 poets spanning 1400 years.  more about RPO
 
New poet: Émile Nelligan

 

 

 

Prologue

1To sing of Wars, of Captains, and of Kings,
2Of Cities founded, Common-wealths begun,
3For my mean Pen are too superior things;
4Or how they all, or each their dates have run,
5Let Poets and Historians set these forth.
6My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth.
7But when my wond'ring eyes and envious heart
9Fool, I do grudge the Muses did not part
10'Twixt him and me that over-fluent store.
11A Bartas can do what a Bartas will
12But simple I according to my skill.
13From School-boy's tongue no Rhet'ric we expect,
14Nor yet a sweet Consort from broken strings,
15Nor perfect beauty where's a main defect.
16My foolish, broken, blemished Muse so sings,
17And this to mend, alas, no Art is able,
18'Cause Nature made it so irreparable.
20Who lisp'd at first, in future times speak plain.
21By Art he gladly found what he did seek,
22A full requital of his striving pain.
23Art can do much, but this maxim's most sure:
24A weak or wounded brain admits no cure.
25I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
26Who says my hand a needle better fits.
27A Poet's Pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
28For such despite they cast on female wits.
29If what I do prove well, it won't advance,
30They'll say it's stol'n, or else it was by chance.
31But sure the antique Greeks were far more mild,
32Else of our Sex, why feigned they those nine
34So 'mongst the rest they placed the Arts divine,
35But this weak knot they will full soon untie.
36The Greeks did nought but play the fools and lie.
37Let Greeks be Greeks, and Women what they are.
38Men have precedency and still excel;
39It is but vain unjustly to wage war.
40Men can do best, and Women know it well.
41Preeminence in all and each is yours;
42Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.
43And oh ye high flown quills that soar the skies,
44And ever with your prey still catch your praise,
45If e'er you deign these lowly lines your eyes,
46Give thyme or Parsley wreath, I ask no Bays.
47This mean and unrefined ore of mine
48Will make your glist'ring gold but more to shine.

Notes

8] Bartas: Guillaume du Bartas (1544-90), French poet translated into English by Thomas Hudson (1584) and Josuah Sylvester (1605, 1608). Back to Line
19] that fluent sweet-tongued Greek: Demosthenes. Back to Line
33] Calliope: muse of heroic or epic poetry Back to Line
 What thou lovest well remains,
                  the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
                or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
    Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
Ezra Pound Pisan Cantos, LXXXI

On this day: May 27th

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