Epistle to Mrs. Tyler

By Christopher Smart 1722–1771 Christopher Smart
It ever was allow’d, dear Madam,   
Ev’n from the days of father Adam,   
Of all perfection flesh is heir to,   
Fair patience is the gentlest virtue;
This is a truth our grandames teach,   
Our poets sing, and parsons preach;   
Yet after all, dear Moll, the fact is   
We seldom put it into practice;   
I’ll warrant (if one knew the truth)   
You’ve call’d me many an idle youth,   
And styled me rude ungrateful bear,   
Enough to make a parson swear.   

      I shall not make a long oration   
      In order for my vindication,   
      For what the plague can I say more   
      Than lazy dogs have done before;   
      Such stuff is nought but mere tautology,   
      And so take that for my apology.   

First then for custards, my dear Mary,   
The produce of your dainty dairy,   
For stew’d, for bak’d, for boil’d, for roast,   
And all the teas and all the toast;   
With thankful tongue and bowing attitude,   
I here present you with my gratitude:   
Next for you apples, pears and plums   
Acknowledgment in order comes;   
For wine, for ale, for fowl, for fish—for   
Ev’n all one’s appetite can wish for:   
But O ye pens, and O ye pencils,   
And all ye scribbling utensils,   
Say in what words and in what metre,
Shall unfeign’d admiration greet her,   
For that rich banquet so refin’d   
Her conversation gave the mind;   
The solid meal of sense and worth,   
Set off by the desert of mirth;   
Wit’s fruit and pleasure’s genial bowl,   
And all the joyous flow of soul;   
For these, and every kind ingredient   
That form’d your love—your most obedient.

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Poet Christopher Smart 1722–1771

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Relationships, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Epistle

 Christopher  Smart

Biography

It is notable that beginning with Robert Browning, it has been poets rather than critics who have been the warmest and most perceptive admirers of the poetry of Christopher Smart. In a 1975 radio broadcast in Australia, Peter Porter spoke of Smart as "the purest case of man's vision prevailing over the spirit of his times." While it would be facile and unilluminating to characterize Smart as a proto-Romantic, there can be no . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Epistle

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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