Hudibras and Milton Reconciled

by William Somervile

William Somervile


Dear Knight! how great a drudge is he
Who would excel in poetry;
And yet how few have learn'd the art
To' inform the head or touch the heart!
Some with a dry and barren brain,
Poor rogues! like costive lapdogs strain;
While others with a flux of wit
The reader and their friends besh-t.
Would you (Sir Knight) my judgment know?
He still writes worst who writes so-so.
In this the mighty secret lies,
To elevate and to surprise.
Thus far my pen at random run,
The fire was out, the clock struck one,
When, lo! strange hollow murmurs from without
Invade my ears. In every quarter rous'd,
The warning winds rush from their rocky caves
Tumultuous; the vapours dank or dry,
Beneath their standards rang'd, with lowering front
Darken the welkin. At each dreadful shock
Oaks, pines, and elms, down to their mother earth
Bend low their suppliant heads: the nodding towers
Menace destruction, and old Edric's house
From its foundation shakes. The bellying clouds
Burst into rain, or gild their sable skirts
With flakes of ruddy fire: fierce elements
In ruin reconcil'd, redoubled peals
Of ceaseless thunder roar. Convulsions rend
The firmament. The whole creation stands
Mute and appall'd, and trembling waits its doom.
And now, perhaps, dear friend! you wonder
In this dread scene of wind, rain, thunder,
What a poor guilty wretch could do:
Then hear — (for, faith, I tell you true)
I water'd, shook my giddy head,
Gravely broke wind, and went to bed.

Last updated October 28, 2017