Ye twain, in trouble and distress
True friends whom I so oft have found,
Say, for our scheme on German ground,
What prospect have we of success?
Fain would I please the public, win their thanks;
They live and let live, hence it is but meet.
The posts are now erected, and the planks,
And all look forward to a festal treat.
Their places taken, they, with eyebrows rais’d,
Sit patiently, and fain would be amaz’d.
I know the art to hit the public taste,
Yet ne’er of failure felt so keen a dread;
True, they are not accustomed to the best,
But then appalling the amount they’ve read.
How make our entertainment striking, new,
And yet significant and pleasing too?
For to be plain, I love to see the throng,
As to our booth the living tide progresses;
As wave on wave successive rolls along,
And through heaven’s narrow portal forceful presses;
Still in broad daylight, ere the clock strikes four,
With blows their way toward the box they take;
And, as for bread in famine, at the baker’s door,
For tickets are content their necks to break.
Such various minds the bard alone can sway,
My friend, oh work this miracle today!
Oh of the motley throng speak not before me,
At whose aspect the Spirit wings its flight!
Conceal the surging concourse, I implore thee,
Whose vortex draws us with resistless might.
No, to some peaceful heavenly nook restore me,
Where only for the bard blooms pure delight,
Where love and friendship yield their choicest blessing,
Our heart’s true bliss, with godlike hand caressing.
What in the spirit’s depths was there created,
What shyly there the lip shaped forth in sound;
A failure now, with words now fitly mated,
In the wild tumult of the hour is drown’d;
Full oft the poet’s thought for years hath waited
Until at length with perfect form ’tis crowned;
What dazzles, for the moment born, must perish;
What genuine is posterity will cherish.
This cant about posterity I hate;
About posterity were I to prate,
Who then the living would amuse? For they
Will have diversion, ay, and ’tis their due.
A sprightly fellow’s presence at your play,
Methinks should also count for something too;
Whose genial wit the audience still inspires,
Knows from their changeful mood no angry feeling;
A wider circle he desires,
To their heart’s depths more surely thus appealing.
To work, then! Give a master-piece, my friend;
Bring Fancy with her choral trains before us,
Sense, reason, feeling, passion, but attend!
Let folly also swell the tragic chorus.