The Progress of Poetry

The farmer’s goose, who in the stubble

Has fed without restraint or trouble,

Grown fat with corn and sitting still,

Can scarce get o’er the barndoor sill;

And hardly waddles forth to cool

Her belly in the neighbouring pool!

Nor loudly cackles at the door;

For cackling shows the goose is poor.

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But, when she must be turn’d to graze,

And round the barren common strays,

Hard exercise and harder fare,

Soon make my dame grow lank and spare:

Her body light, she tries her wings,

And scorns the ground, and upward springs;

While all the parish, as she flies,

Hear sounds harmonious from the skies.

Such is the poet fresh in pay,

The third night’s profits of his play;

His morning draughts till noon can swill,

Among his brethren of the quill:

With good roast beef his belly full,

Grown lazy, foggy, fat, and dull,

Deep sunk in plenty and delight,

What poet e’er could take his flight?

Or, stuff’d with phlegm up to the throat,

What poet e’er could sing a note?

Nor Pegasus could bear the load

Along the high celestial road;

The steed, oppress’d, would break his girth,

To raise the lumber from the earth.

Also See: Poetry and Short Narrations

But view him in another scene,

When all his drink is Hippocrene,

His money spent, his patrons fail,

His credit out for cheese and ale;

His two years coat so smooth and bare,

Through every thread it lets in air;

With hungry meals his body pined,

His guts and belly full of wind;

And like a jockey for a race,

His flesh brought down to flying case;

Now his exalted spirit loathes

Encumbrances of food and clothes;

And up he rises, like a vapour,

Supported high on wings of paper;

He singing flies, and flying sings,

While from below all Grub-street rings.