To the Gentleman who offer’d 50 Pounds to any Person who should write the best POEM by May next on five Subjects, viz. Life, Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell by Jane Hughes Brereton

But fifty Pounds! — A sorry Sum!
You’d more need offer half a Plumb*:
Five weighty Subjects well to handle?
Sir, you forget the Price of Candle;
And Leather too; when late and soon,
I shall be paceing o’er my Room,
Bite close my Nails, and scratch my Head,
When other People are in Bed.
‘Tis known old Swift, Dan Pope and Toung,
Those Leaders of the rhiming Throng,
Are better paid for Meditations,
On the most trifling Occasions;
The Broomstick, Benefit of Farting;
Or any Whim they shew their Art in.
Alas, an idle Farce, or Play,
Such as Tom Thumb , or Phillida,
Is better lik’d, will sooner sell,
Than pious Subjects trated well.
I ever lov’d the true Sublime,
And think the Theme is worth my Time;
But I’m a Maid, whose Fortune’s small,
Or I would ask no Pay at all:
But straight sit down, invoke my Muse;
For those are Subjects I would chuse.
But as an Author lately writ,
The Muses! they are Virgins yet;
And may be, — till they Portions get:
So, as’ tis Wealth that all Men follow,
Not Jove’ s fair Daughters, nor Apollo:
Methinks, I’d fain increase the Blessing,
For which such Crowds are daily pressing.
O Wealth! thou universal Passion!
So much desir’d in this our Nation;
That should the Doctor write again,
He would say Wealth instead of Fame.
But to return from my Digression,
And be more clear in my Expression;
That is, Sir, if you’d have it done,
Pray add a Cypher to your Sum:
I did but jest ’bout half a Plumb.

*PLUM(B)—A fortune of £100,000, or a person who has such a fortune. The word was used like the modern word millionaire.

From: http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poems/gentleman-who-offerd-50-pounds-any-person-who-should-write-best-poem-may-next-five-subjects

Date: 1734

By: Jane Hughes Brereton (1658-1740)

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