Different Attitudes in which Authors compose.--Bayes, Henry Stevens, Herodotus, etc.--Writing in Bed--in the Fields.--Plato and Sir Richard Blackmore.--Fiddling with Gloves and Twigs.--Madame de Staël.--Rhyming on the Road, in an old Calêche.
What various attitudes and ways
And tricks we authors have in writing!
While some write sitting, some like BAYES
Usually stand while they're inditing,
Poets there are who wear the floor out,
Measuring a line at every stride;
While some like HENRY STEPHENS pour out
Rhymes by the dozen while they ride.
HERODOTUS wrote most in bed;
And RICHERAND, a French physician,
Declares the clock-work of the head
Goes best in that reclined position.
If you consult MONTAIGNE and PLINY on
The subject, 'tis their joint opinion
That Thought its richest harvest yields
Abroad among the woods and fields,
That bards who deal in small retail
At home may at their counters stop;
But that the grove, the hill, the vale,
Are Poesy's true wholesale shop.
And verily I think they're right--
For many a time on summer eves,
Just at that closing hour of light,
When, like an Eastern Prince, who leaves
For distant war his Haram bowers,
The Sun bids farewell to the flowers,
Whose heads are sunk, whose tears are flowing
Mid all the glory of his going!--
Even I have felt, beneath those beams,
When wandering thro' the fields alone,
Thoughts, fancies, intellectual gleams,
Which, far too bright to be my own,
Seemed lent me by the Sunny Power
That was abroad at that still hour.
If thus I've felt, how must they feel,
The few whom genuine Genius warms,
Upon whose soul he stamps his seal,
Graven with Beauty's countless forms;--
The few upon this earth, who seem
Born to give truth to PLATO'S dream,
Since in their thoughts, as in a glass,
Shadows of heavenly things appear.
Reflections of bright shapes that pass
Thro' other worlds, above our sphere!
But this reminds me I digress;--
For PLATO, too, produced, 'tis said,
(As one indeed might almost guess),
His glorious visions all in bed.
'Twas in his carriage the sublime
Sir RICHARD BLACKMORE used to rhyme;
And (if the wits don’t do him wrong)
Twixt death and epics past his time,
Scribbling and killing all day long--
Like Phoebus in his car, at ease,
Now warbling forth a lofty song,
Now murdering the young Niobes.
There was a hero 'mong the Danes,
Who wrote, we're told, mid all the pains
And horrors of exenteration,
Nine charming odes, which, if you'll look,
You'll find preserved with a translation
By BARTHOLINOS in his book.
In short 'twere endless to recite
The various modes in which men write.
Some wits are only in the mind.
When beaus and belles are round them prating;
Some when they dress for dinner find
Their muse and valet both in waiting
And manage at the self-same time
To adjust a neckcloth and a rhyme.
Some bards there are who cannot scribble
Without a glove to tear or nibble
Or a small twig to whisk about--
As if the hidden founts of Fancy,
Like wells of old, were thus found out
By mystic trick of rhabdomancy.
Such was the little feathery wand,
That, held for ever in the hand
Of her who won and wore the crown
Of female genius in this age,
Seemed the conductor that drew down
Those words of lightning to her page.
As for myself--to come, at last,
To the odd way in which I write--
Having employ'd these few months past
Chiefly in travelling, day and night,
I've got into the easy mode
Of rhyming thus along the road--
Making a way-bill of my pages,
Counting my stanzas by my stages--
'Twixt lays and re-lays no time lost--
In short, in two words, writing post.