Reactions to the New Philosophy

Stephen Duck, On Mites

Stephen Duck (1705–1756) taught himself to read and write verse while working on a farm. Patronized as a natural genius, he was given a pension by Queen Caroline. Later he became a clergyman, but he fell out of favor and eventually drowned himself. The poem "On Mites" dates from the period when he was introduced to high society. The epigraph comes from Matthew Prior's "A Simile," which compares poets to squirrels in a cage.



To a Lady

'Tis but by way of Simile.



Dear Madam, did you never gaze,
Thro' Optic-glass, on rotten Cheese?
There, Madam, did you ne'er perceive
A Crowd of dwarfish Creatures live?
The little Things, elate with Pride,
Strut to and from, from Side to Side:
In tiny Pomp, and pertly vain,
Lords of their pleasing Orb, they reign;
And, fill'd with harden'd Curds and Cream,
Think the whole Dairy made for them.
      So Men, conceited Lords of all,
Walk proudly o'er this pendent Ball,
Fond of their little Spot below,
Nor greater Beings care to know;
But think, those Worlds, which deck the Skies,
Were only form'd to please their Eyes.

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