In chief, of incident enough prepare!
A show they want, they come to gape and stare.
Spin for their eyes abundant occupation,
So that the multitude may wondering gaze,
You by sheer bulk have won your reputation,
The man you are all love to praise.
By mass alone can you subdue the masses,
Each then selects in time what suits his bent.
Bring much, you something bring for various classes,
And from the house goes every one content.
You give a piece, abroad in pieces send it!
’Tis a ragout—success must needs attend it;
’Tis easy to serve up, as easy to invent.
A finish’d whole what boots it to present!
Full soon the public will in pieces rend it.
How mean such handicraft as this you cannot feel!
How it revolts the genuine artist’s mind!
The sorry trash in which these coxcombs deal,
Is here approved on principle, I find.
Such a reproof disturbs me not a whit!
Who on efficient work is bent,
Must choose the fittest instrument.
Consider! ’tis soft wood you have to split;
Think too for whom you write, I pray!
One comes to while an hour away;
One from the festive board, a sated guest;
Others, more dreaded than the rest,
From journal-reading hurry to the play.
As to a masquerade, with absent minds, they press,
Sheer curiosity their footsteps winging;
Ladies display their persons and their dress,
Actors unpaid their service bringing.
What dreams beguile you on your poet’s height?
What puts a full house in a merry mood?
More closely view your patrons of the night!
The half are cold, the half are rude.
One, the play over, craves a game of cards;
Another a wild night in wanton joy would spend.
Poor fools the muses’ fair regards
Why court for such a paltry end?
I tell you, give them more, still more, ’tis all I ask,
Thus you will ne’er stray widely from the goal;
Your audience seek to mystify, cajole;—
To satisfy them—that’s a harder task.
What ails thee? art enraptured or distressed?
Depart! elsewhere another servant choose.
What! shall the bard his godlike power abuse?
Man’s loftiest right, kind nature’s high bequest,
For your mean purpose basely sport away?
Whence comes his mastery o’er the human breast,
Whence o’er the elements his sway,
But from the harmony that, gushing from his soul,
Draws back into his heart the wondrous whole?
With careless hand when round her spindle, Nature
Winds the interminable thread of life;
When ’mid the clash of Being every creature
Mingles in harsh inextricable strife;
Who deals their course unvaried till it falleth,
In rhythmic flow to music’s measur’d tone?