John Dovaston (1782-1854)

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The Muse

"The man that's poor and prosecutes the muse,"
Said I, "alas! is like to lose his cause."
So I resolved with her to have a truce,
Quite well aware I could not learn her laws.
Though some assert that hers, like ours, have flaws
Which let her pleaders 'peach. I'm even content
To own her power and give my bickerings pause,
A liegeman to her gambol government.
For late, as sauntering through the woods I went,
She met me smiling. "Come," said I, "let's plight
Our troth again." Quoth she (with lips up-bent):
"We're not so near akin but what we might!"
So now we lead a joyous jangling life,
And kiss and quarrel--just like man and wife.


Sure, merry May, thy reign is near allied
To that of early love.--Thy subjects play
Blushing in bloom; and pranked in frolic pride
Right freshly shines thy blithe and breezy day.
In the green shade that scarce excludes the ray,
The insect hum is up; the brilliant fly
Lights on a sunny leaf and glistens gay;
While the coy blackcap warbles wildly nigh.

Quick shoots the gossamer all reddening bright
With sunny glance: the sharp-winged swallows high
Sail nimbly: and full many a flowret's eye
Looks eager on thy realm with flush delight.
Sure thou art akin to love, sweet May.--And I
Perchance could tell some other reason why.

The Sonnet

There are who say the sonnet's meted maze
Is all too fettered for the poet's powers,
Compelled to crowd his flush and airy flowers
Like pots of tall imperials, ill at ease.
Or should some tiny thought his fancy seize,
A violet on a vase's top it towers,
And mid the mass of leaves he round it showers
Its little cap and tippet scarce can raise.

Others assert the sonnet's proper praise,
Like petalled flowers to each its due degree;
The king-cup five, the pilewort eight bright rays,
The speedwell four, the green-tipped snowdrop three:
So mid the bard's all-petalled sorts is seen
The sonnet--simple flowret of fourteen.

To Mr John Hamilton Reynolds, Author of "Safie" and Other Poems

Reynolds, no more as erst two frolic boys
By Severn's side our school-day tricks we try,
For me now holds the love of rural joys,
Thee city pomp, light sock, and buskin high.
Yet distance dares not bid us leave to ply
The social sheet, or court our mutual muse,
For distance cannot time-tied souls untie
Nor dim the long horizon of their views.

But never let my woods their leafage lose
Till thou hast there admired ripe August glow;
Nor shall in turn my friendly foot refuse
To beat thy threshold with December's snow.
So shalt thou love my rural joys: and I
Approve thy scenic pomp, light sock, and buskin high.