The Poetry Corner

Sandys Ghost ; A Proper Ballad On The New Ovid's Metamorphosis

By Alexander Pope

Ye Lords and Commons, Men of Wit, And Pleasure about Town; Read this ere you translate one Bit Of Books of high Renown. Beware of Latin Authors all! Nor think your Verses Sterling, Though with a Golden Pen you scrawl, And scribble in a Berlin: For not the Desk with silver Nails, Nor Bureau of Expense, Nor standish well japann'd avails, To writing of good Sense. Hear how a Ghost in dead of Night, With saucer Eyes of Fire, In woeful wise did sore affright A Wit and courtly 'Squire. Rare Imp and Phoebus, hopeful Youth Like Puppy tame that uses To fetch and carry, in his Mouth, The Works of all the Muses. Ah! why did he write Poetry, That hereto was so civil; And sell his soul for vanity, To Rhyming and the Devil? A Desk he had of curious Work, With glittering Studs about; Within the same did Sandys lurk, Though Ovid lay without. Now as he scratch'd to fetch up Thought, Forth popp'd the Sprite so thin; And from the Key-hole bolted out, All upright as a Pin. With Whiskers, Band, and Pantaloon, And Ruff composed most duly; This 'Squire he dropp'd his Pen full soon, While as the Light burnt bluely. "Ho! Master Sam," quoth Sandys' sprite, "Write on, nor let me scare ye; Forsooth, if Rhymes fall in not right, To Budgell seek, or Carey. "I hear the Beat of Jacob's Drums, Poor Ovid finds no Quarter! See first the merry Pembroke comes In Haste, without his Garter. "Then Lords and Lordlings, 'Squires and Knights, Wits, Witlings, Prigs and Peers! Garth at St. James's, and at White's, Beats up for Volunteers. "What Fenton will not do, nor Gay, Nor Congreve, Rowe, nor Stanyan, Tom Burnet or Tom D'Urfey may, John Dunton, Steele, or any one. "If Justice Philips' costive head Some frigid Rhymes disburses; They shall like Persian Tales be read, And glad both Babes and Nurses. "Let Warwick's Muse with Ashurst join, And Ozell's with Lord Hervey's: Tickell and Addison combine, And Ppe translate with Jervas. "Landsdowne himself, that lively Lord, Who bows to every Lady, Shall join with Frowde in one Accord, And be like Tate and Brady. "Ye Ladies too draw forth your pen, I pray where can the hurt lie? Since you have Brains as well as Men, As witness Lady Wortley. "Now, Tonson, list thy Forces all, Review them, and tell Noses; For to poor Ovid shall befal A strange Metamorphosis. "A Metamorphosis more strange Than all his Books can vapour;" 'To what' (quoth 'squire) 'shall Ovid change?' Quoth Sandys: "To waste paper."