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Don Juan

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DEDICATION Bob Southey! You're a poet, poet laureate,And representative of all the race.Although 'tis true that you turned out a Tory atLast, yours has lately been a common case.And now my epic renegade, what are ye atWith all the lakers, in and out of place?A nest of tuneful persons, to my eyeLike four and twenty blackbirds in a pye,Which pye being opened they began to sing'(This old song and new simile holds good),'A dainty dish to set before the King'Or Regent, who admires such kind of food.And Coleridge too has lately taken wing,But like a hawk encumbered with his hood,Explaining metaphysics to the nation.I wish he would explain his explanation.You, Bob, are rather insolent, you know,At being disappointed in your wishTo supersede all warblers here below,And be the only blackbird in the dish.And then you overstrain yourself, or so,And tumble downward like the flying fishGasping on deck, because you soar too high,Bob, And fall for lack of moisture quite a dry Bob.And Wordsworth in a rather long Excursion(I think the quarto holds five hundred pages)Has given a sample from the vasty versionOf his new system to perplex the sages.'Tis poetry, at least by his assertion,And may appear so when the Dog Star rages,And he who understands it would be ableTo add a story to the tower of Babel.You gentlemen, by dint of long seclusionFrom better company, have kept your ownAt Keswick, and through still continued fusionOf one another's minds at last have grownTo deem, as a most logical conclusion,That poesy has wreaths for you alone.There is a narrowness in such a notion,Which makes me wish you'd change your lakes for ocean.I would not imitate the petty thought,Nor coin my self-love to so base a vice,For all the glory your conversion brought,Since gold alone should not have been its price.You have your salary; was't for that you wrought?And Wordsworth has his place in the Excise.You're shabby fellows—true—but poets stillAnd duly seated on the immortal hill.Your bays may hide the baldness of your brows,Perhaps some virtuous blushes; let them go.To you I envy neither fruit nor boughs,And for the fame you would engross below,The field is universal and allowsScope to all such as feel the inherent glow.Scott, Rogers, Campbell, Moore, and Crabbe will try'Gainst you the question with posterity.For me, who, wandering with pedestrian Muses,Contend not with you on the winged' steed,I wish your fate may yield ye, when she chooses,The fame you envy and the skill you need.And recollect a poet nothing losesIn giving to his brethren their full meedOf merit, and complaint of present daysIs not the certain path to future praise.He that reserves his laurels for posterity(Who does not often claim the bright reversion)Has generally no great crop to spare it, heBeing only injured by his own assertion.And although here and there some glorious rarityArise like Titan from the sea's immersion,The major part of such appellants goTo—God knows where—for no one else can know....