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No. 058 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

But to return to our ancient Poems in Picture, I would humbly propose, for the Benefit of our modern Smatterers in Poetry, that they would imitate their Brethren among the Ancients in those ingenious Devices. I have communicated this Thought to a young Poetical Lover of my Acquaintance, who intends to present his Mistress with a Copy of Verses made in the Shape of her Fan; and, if he tells me true, has already finished the three first Sticks of it. He has likewise promised me to get the Measure of his Mistress’s Marriage-Finger, with a Design to make a Posy in the Fashion of a Ring, which shall exactly fit it. It is so very easy to enlarge upon a good Hint, that I do not question but my ingenious Readers will apply what I have said to many other Particulars; and that we shall see the Town filled in a very little time with Poetical Tippets, Handkerchiefs, Snuff-Boxes, and the like Female Ornaments. I shall therefore conclude with a Word of Advice to those admirable English Authors who call themselves Pindarick Writers, [5] that they would apply themselves to this kind of Wit without Loss of Time, as being provided better than any other Poets with Verses of all Sizes and Dimensions.


[Footnote 1: Not a new paragraph in the first issue.]

[Footnote 2: which]

[Footnote 3: The ‘Syrinx’ of Theocritus consists of twenty verses, so arranged that the length of each pair is less than that of the pair before, and the whole resembles the ten reeds of the mouth organ or Pan pipes ([Greek: syrigx]). The Egg is, by tradition, called Anacreon’s. Simmias of Rhodes, who lived about B.C. 324, is said to have been the inventor of shaped verses. Butler in his ‘Character of a Small Poet’ said of Edward Benlowes:

‘As for Altars and Pyramids in poetry, he has outdone all men that way; for he has made a gridiron and a frying-pan in verse, that besides the likeness in shape, the very tone and sound of the words did perfectly represent the noise that is made by those utensils.’]

[Footnote 4: But a devout earnestness gave elevation to George Herbert’s ingenious conceits. Joshua Sylvester’s dedication to King James the First of his translation of the Divine Weeks and Works of Du Bartas has not this divine soul in its oddly-fashioned frame. It begins with a sonnet on the Royal Anagram ‘James Stuart: A just Master;’ celebrates his Majesty in French and Italian, and then fills six pages with verse built in his Majesty’s honour, in the form of bases and capitals of columns, inscribed each with the name of one of the Muses. Puttenham’s Art of Poetry, published in 1589, book II., ch. ii. contains the fullest account of the mysteries and varieties of this sort of versification.]

[Footnote 5: When the tyranny of French criticism had imprisoned nearly all our poetry in the heroic couplet, outside exercise was allowed only to those who undertook to serve under Pindar.]