The Muses sat on Parnassus’s Peak…
One spoke Hebrew, another Greek
One for Arabic took a freak,
Till Love in a pet cried, “Can’t you speak
“Grave Melpomene Greek may teach,
Clio honours Etruscan speech;
But if they have two tongues for each,
I’ll not stay.”
Laughing Pallas said, “Cupid, fie!
English is left for you and I —
Nobody cares below the sky
What we say.
“Mars may Mohawk or High-Dutch quote,
Ganymede warbles a Tuscan note;
All the Graces for French will vote
S’il vous plait!
“Stern Bellona talks German yet,
Nothing but Greek for Jove is fit
But an English tongue is the tongue for Wit
While you stay.”
Merrily said the eldest Grace
Sitting by chance in a Muse’s place,
“I speak the language of ev’ry race
Mine is a language all men know
When bright eyes sparkle and kind hearts glow
’Tis the eloquence THEY bestow
None but THEY!
’Tis lisp’d in Paris, ’tis sung in Rome,
’Tis worshipp’d in old Athena’s Dome
’Tis the nation’s voice where’er I roam,
If I sway.
Let us be French in the Tuileries,
Romans in Rome, and Greeks in Greece,
But let us when here we sit at ease
With Muses and Graces and friends like these
Speak English, pray!