The Poetry Corner

Lines On Receiving From The Eight Hon. The Lady Frances Shirley[63] A Standish And Two Pens.

By Alexander Pope

1 Yes, I beheld the Athenian queen Descend in all her sober charms; 'And take,' she said, and smiled serene, 'Take at this hand celestial arms: 2 'Secure the radiant weapons wield; This golden lance shall guard desert; And if a vice dares keep the field, This steel shall stab it to the heart.' 3 Awed, on my bended knees I fell, Received the weapons of the sky; And dipp'd them in the sable well, The fount of fame or infamy. 4 'What well? what weapon?' Flavia cries-- 'A standish, steel, and golden pen! It came from Bertrand's,[64] not the skies; I gave it you to write again. 5 'But, friend, take heed whom you attack; You'll bring a house (I mean of peers) Red, blue, and green, nay, white and black, L---- and all about your ears. 6 'You'd write as smooth again on glass, And run, on ivory, so glib, As not to stick at fool or ass,[65] Nor stop at flattery or fib.[66] 7 'Athenian queen! and sober charms! I tell ye, fool, there's nothing in't: 'Tis Venus, Venus gives these arms;[67] In Dryden's Virgil see the print.[68] 8 'Come, if you'll be a quiet soul, That dares tell neither truth nor lies,[69] I'll list you in the harmless roll Of those that sing of these poor eyes.'