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Nicholas Boileau-Despreaux

To Moliere

Unequaled genius, whose warm fancy knows
No rhyming labor, no poetic throes;
To whom Apollo has unlocked his store;
Whose coin is struck from pure Parnassian ore;
Thou, dextrous master, teach thy skill to me,
And tell me, Moliere, how to1 rhyme like thee!

You never falter when the close comes round,
Or leave the substance to preserve the sound;
You never wander after words that fly,
For all the words you need before you lie.
But I, who--smarting for my sins of late--
With itch of rhyme am visited by fate,
Expend on air my unavailing force,
And, hunting sounds, am sweated like a horse.
In vain I often muse from dawn till night:
When I mean black, my stubborn verse says white;
If I should paint a coxcomb's flippant mien,
I scarcely can forbear to name the Dean;
If asked to tell the strains that purest flow,

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The Pastoral, The Elegy, The Ode, And The Epigram

As A fair nymph, when rising from her bed,
With sparkling diamonds dresses not her head,
But without gold, or pearl, or costly scents,
Gathers from neighboring fields her ornaments:
Such, lovely in its dress, but plain withal,
Ought to appear a perfect Pastoral.
Its humble method nothing has of fierce,
But hates the rattling of a lofty verse;
There native beauty pleases and excites,
And never with harsh sounds the ear affrights.

But in this style a poet, often spent
In rage, throws by his rural instrument,
And vainly, when disordered thoughts abound,
Amidst the eclogue makes the trumpet sound;
Pan flies alarmed into the neighboring woods,
And frighted nymphs dive down into the floods.

Opposed to this, another, low in style,
Makes shepherds speak a language low and vile;

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