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Time was, a sober Englishman wou'd knockHis servants up, and rise by five a clock,

Instruct his Family in ev'ry rule,

And send his Wife to Church, his Son to school.

(5) To worship like his Fathers was his care;

To teach their frugal Virtues to his Heir;

To prove, that Luxury could never hold;

And place, on good Security, his Gold.

Now Times are chang'd, and one Poetick Itch

(10) Has seiz'd the Court and City, Poor and Rich:

Sons, Sires, and Grandsires, all will wear the Bays,

Our Wives read Milton, and our Daughters Plays,

To Theatres, and to Rehearsals throng,

And all our Grace at Table is a Song.

(15) I, who so oft renounce the Muses, lye,

Not—'s self e'er tells more Fibs than I;

When, sick of Muse, our follies we deplore,

And promise our best Friends to ryme no more;

We wake next morning in a raging Fit,

(20) And call for Pen and Ink to show our Wit.

He serv'd a 'Prenticeship, who sets up shop;

Ward try'd on Puppies, and the Poor, his Drop;

Ev'n Radcliff's Doctors travel first to France,

Nor dare to practise till they've learn'd to dance.

(25) Who builds a Bridge that never drove a pyle?

(Should Ripley venture, all the World would smile)

But those who cannot write, and those who can,

All ryme, and scrawl, and scribble, to a man.

Yet Sir, reflect, the mischief is not great;

(30) These Madmen never hurt the Church or State:

Sometimes the Folly benefits mankind;

And rarely Av'rice taints the tuneful mind.

Allow him but his Play-thing of a Pen,

He ne'er rebels, or plots, like other men:

(35) Flight of Cashiers, or Mobs, he'll never mind;

And knows no losses while the Muse is kind.

To cheat a Friend, or Ward, he leaves to Peter;

The good man heaps up nothing but mere metre,

Enjoys his Garden and his Book in quiet;

(40) And then—a perfect Hermit in his Diet.

Of little use the Man you may suppose,

Who says in verse what others say in prose;

Yet let me show, a Poet's of some weight,

And (tho' no Soldier) useful to the State.

(45) What will a Child learn sooner than a song?

What better teach a Foreigner the tongue?

What's long or short, each accent where to place,

And speak in publick with some sort of grace.

I scarce can think him such a worthless thing,

(50) Unless he praise some monster of a King,

Or Virtue, or Religion turn to sport,

To please a lewd, or un-believing Court.


1) Which best describes the function of lines 9−14?

 a) They elaborate on the characterization provided in the first few lines.

 b) They present a contrasting description to one described earlier.

 c) They provide a rare exception to a general rule previously established.

 d) They respond to a question presented at the opening of the poem.

 e) The support a claim that was earlier established in the poem.


2) Which best describes the overall tone of the poem?

 a) Altogether obsequious

 b) Mostly candid

 c) Playfully ironic

 d) Slightly reserved

 e) Somewhat somber


3) The speaker begins to qualify his previously established position in which line?

 a) Line 9

 b) Line 19

 c) Line 20

 d) Line 29

 e) Line 35


4) In lines 17−20 ("When, sick of...our Wit"), the desire to write is primarily seen as

 a) a threat to morality and political stability

 b) a fleeting opportunity for creative expression

 c) an example of society's shifting values

 d) an overpowering preoccupation

 e) the result of enduring mental illness


5) The speaker views poetry as

 a) a self-absorbed and presumptuous art form

 b) a waste of time for a writer otherwise skilled in rhetoric

 c) an esteemed and challenging form of self-expression

 d) essential as a tool to understand the human experience

 e) somewhat frivolous but with cultural and educational value

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