"When I behold a genius bright and base, / Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims; / Methinks I see, as thrown from her high sphere, / The glorious fragments of a soul immortal, / With rubbish mix'd, and glittering in the dust."

— Young, Edward (bap. 1683, d. 1765)


Place of Publication
London
Publisher
R. Dodsley
Date
1744
Metaphor
"When I behold a genius bright and base, / Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims; / Methinks I see, as thrown from her high sphere, / The glorious fragments of a soul immortal, / With rubbish mix'd, and glittering in the dust."
Metaphor in Context
Genius and Art, Ambition's boasted wings,
Our boast but ill deserve. A feeble aid!
D├Ždalian engin'ry! if these alone
Assist our flight, Fame's flight is Glory's fall.
Heart-merit wanting, mount we ne'er so high,
Our height is but the gibbet of our name.
A celebrated wretch when I behold,
When I behold a genius bright and base,
Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims;
Methinks I see, as thrown from her high sphere,
The glorious fragments of a soul immortal,
With rubbish mix'd, and glittering in the dust
.
Struck at the splendid, melancholy sight
At once compassion soft, and envy, rise---
But wherefore envy? Talents angel-bright,
If wanting worth, are shining instruments
In false Ambition's hand, to finish faults
Illustrious, and give Infamy renown.
(ll. 259-276, p. 156 in CUP edition)
Provenance
Reading
Citation
Uniform title published in 9 volumes, from 1742 to 1745. At least 133 reprintings after 1745 in ESTC (1747, 1748, 1749, 1750, 1751, 1752, 1755, 1756, 1757, 1758, 1760, 1761, 1762, 1764, 1765, 1766, 1767, 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1782, 1783, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, 1795, 1796, 1797, 1798, 1800).

Edward Young, Night the Sixth. The Infidel Reclaim'd. In Two Parts. Containing, The Nature, Proof, and Importance of Immortality. Part the First. Where, among other things, Glory, and Riches, are particularly consider'd. Humbly Inscrib'd to the Right Honourable Henry Pelham, First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, and Chancellor of the Exchequer. (London: R. Dodsley, 1744). <Link to ECCO>

Text from The Complete Works, Poetry and Prose, of the Rev. Edward Young, LL.D., 2 vols. (London: William Tegg, 1854). <Link to Google Books>

Reading Edward Young, Night Thoughts, ed. Stephen Cornford (New York: Cambridge UP, 1989).
Date of Entry
06/11/2013

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.