Among the Muses and the Graces
Truth, Wit & Friendship took their places:
Wit first unclasp’d her velvet cloak,
Sipp’d her ambrosial cup & spoke.
“On ev’ry New-Year’s day, you know,
Gifts to our fav’rite Fair we owe;
But ten years since, she claim’d my store —
I, for my part, can give no more.”
A kindred Muse replied & smil’d
“We knew your ELLEN when a child!
Oft in her Nurse’s lap we sought her:
We touch’d her soul with attic fire,
We dipp’d her pencil, tun’d her lyre;
Of all our trophies she disposes,
Her casket all our gems encloses:
We gave our tokens long ago,
Then, Sisters! what can we bestow?
But Truth & Joy with Friendship live,
Has Friendship nothing left to give?”
Mild Friendship said, “I seldom reach
The flights of thought & flow’rs of speech;
My vestal fires in silence glow,
My voice is soft, my step is slow:
Uncertain roses crown the Nine,
The constant amaranth is mine!
I lend the eye its lambent light,
I give the smiles which joy invite,
The speech whose true expression warms,
The grace which more than beauty charms!
All these are ELLEN’s — but to-night
When Mirth & Fancy claim their right,
This brief & simple verse I bring,
At ELLEN’s shrine my offering:
Our favour’d ELLEN never scorns
What Friendship gives, & Truth adorns!”
Grave Truth replied, “No gifts are fairer,
But Muses! who shall be the bearer?
Our servants now are grown so stupid —
Go, call the Graces’ footboy Cupid!
He too is pert & apt to roam —
The urchin never stays at home;
Our phrases all he learns by rote,
And begs or steals in Friendship’s coat.
His own lac’d livery, they say,
He lends impostors ev’ry day:
Then, Sister! scorn the truant elf!
I’ll be your messenger myself —
My coat (for twenty ages worn)
Is short, I own, & rough, & torn;
To Wit & Fancy oft I lend it,
But Wit & Fancy never mend it.
Muses! your choicest gifts combine,
To me the precious charge assign!
Secure beneath enchanted locks
I’ll hide them in an attic box;
Whene’er the sacred lid she lifts
Let ELLEN find the Muses’ gifts —
Gifts by their sister-Graces plac’d,
By Wit, & Truth & Friendship grac’d:
Apollo’s self shall be her guest,
And Pleasure crown her ATTIC CHEST!”
Jany 3d 1812