Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Conclusion of the Dunciad
By Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
 
(See full text.)

  MORE she had spoke, but yawn’d—all nature nods:
What mortal can resist the yawn of gods?
Churches and chapels instantly it reach’d;
(St James’s first, for leaden G—— preach’d)
Then catch’d the schools; the hall scarce kept awake;        5
The convocation gap’d, but could not speak:
Lost was the nation’s sense, nor could be found,
While the long solemn unison went round:
Wide, and more wide, it spread o’er all the realm;
Ev’n Palinurus nodded at the helm:        10
The vapour mild o’er each committee crept;
Unfinish’d treaties in each office slept;
And chiefless armies doz’d out the campaign;
And navies yawn’d for orders on the main.
  O Muse! relate (for you can tell alone,        15
Wits have short memories, and dunces none),
Relate, who first, who last resign’d to rest;
Whose heads she partly, whose completely, blest;
What charms could faction, what ambition lull,
The venal quiet, and entrance the dull;        20
’Till drown’d was sense, and shame, and right, and wrong—
O sing, and hush the nations with thy song!
*        *        *        *        *
  In vain, in vain—the all-composing hour
Resistless falls: the muse obeys the pow’r.
She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold        25
Of Night primæval and of Chaos old!
Before her, Fancy’s gilded clouds decay,
And all its varying rainbows die away.
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.        30
As one by one, at dread Medea’s strain,
The sick’ning stars fade off th’ ethereal plain;
As Argus’ eyes by Hermes’ wand opprest,
Clos’d one by one to everlasting rest;
Thus at her felt approach, and secret might,        35
Art after Art goes out, and all is night.
See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of casuistry heap’d o’er her head!
Philosophy, that lean’d on heaven before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.        40
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense!
See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
Religion blushing veils her sacred fires,        45
And unawares Morality expires.
For public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! thy dread empire, CHAOS! is restor’d;
Light dies before thy uncreating word;        50
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall,
And universal darkness buries all.
 
 
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