A Poetic Survey Round Birmingham/Introduction

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A poetic survey round Birmingham - James Bisset - 1800 - fleuron 07.jpg


Tantum modo incepto opus est: cætera res expediet.


When Works of Genius claim the votive lay,
Where shall the Muse her first devotion pay?
Or how, when once she takes the pen in hand,
Her course pursue? or where attempt to stand?

Me thinks I hear dame Prudence, whisp'ring, say,
'Forego thy task, forbear the votive lay;
'A work like thine requires more skill and wit,
'To wiser heads the arduous task submit.'

To what she whispers, freely would I yield,
If any one, besides, would take the field.
Full many, equal to the theme, I find,
But none, to undertake it, seems inclin'd.
Oft have I urg'd, but urg'd, alas! in vain,
None, yet, has dar'd to 'tempt th' advent'rous strain .

The task be mine—If honor, forth, it calls,
That honor on the Arts, and Artists, falls;
I seek no praise, to plaudits lay no claim,
(My pen, I fear, will never raise my fame,)
But rest contented, hoping to produce
A work of novelty, and general use.

No high-flown metaphors shall lead the Muse
In mazy labyrinth, her way to lose,
Or soar, on eagle wings, with vain pretence,
But, in plain language—thus the work commence.

A poetic survey round Birmingham - James Bisset - 1800 - fleuron 08.jpg