Two Poems on Poetry
Alexander Pope, From Horace Odes IV.9
Lest you should think that verse shall die,
Which sounds the silver Thames along,
Taught on the wings of truth to fly
Above the reach of vulgar song;
Though daring Milton sits sublime,
In Spenser native Muses play;
Nor yet shall Waller yield to time,
Nor pensive Cowley's mortal lay.
Digging the Past
Great nations have existed without rhyme,
and lullabied by warhoops apes have laid
their heads on silk, mute till their files of crime
are scrabbled by the antiquarian's spade.
The chronicles of Nineveh and Tyre,
the riddled tablets of the Tigris mud
reburied rest in journals, while the lyre
of David rouses angels in our blood.
There is no history of Assyrian sheiks,
whose deeds were droned by scribes on the evening news;
they live as fallguys for the well-greaved Greeks,
or footnotes to the sufferings of the Jews.
They ate, drank themselves sick, and drew up plans
for Babel's tower--such Good Americans.