"Here forc'd Description is so strangely wrought, / It never stamps its Image on the Thought"

— Parnell, Thomas (1679-1718)

w. 1702, 1713
"Here forc'd Description is so strangely wrought, / It never stamps its Image on the Thought"
Metaphor in Context
By a cold Region next the Rider goes,
Where all lies cover'd in eternal Snows;
Where no bright Genius drives the Chariot high,
To glitter on the Ground, and gild the Sky.
Bleak level Realm, where Frigid Stiles abound,
Where never yet a daring Thought was found,
But counted Feet is Poetry defin'd;
And starv'd Conceits that chill the Reader's Mind
A little Sense in many Words imply,
And drag with loit'ring numbers slowly by.
Here dry sententious Speeches half asleep,
Prolong'd in Lines, o'er many Pages creep;
Nor ever shew the Passions well exprest,
Nor raise like Passions in another's Breast.
Here flat Narrations fair Exploits debase,
In Measures void of ev'ry shining Grace;
Which never arm their Hero for the Field,
Nor with Prophetick Story paint the Shield,
Nor fix the Crest, or make the Feathers wave,
Or with their Characters reward the Brave;
Undeck'd they stand, and unadorn'd with Praise,
And fail to profit while they fail to please.
Here forc'd Description is so strangely wrought,
It never stamps its Image on the Thought;

The liveless Trees may stand for ever bare,
And Rivers stop, for ought the Readers care;
They see no Branches trembling in the Woods,
Nor hear the Murmurs of encreasing Floods,
Which near the Roots with ruffled Waters flow,
And shake the shadows of the Boughs below.
Ah sacred Verse, replete with heav'nly Flame,
Such cold Endeavours wou'd invade thy Name!
The Writer fondly wou'd in these survive,
Which wanting Spirit never seem'd alive:
But if Applause or Fame attend his Pen,
Let breathless Statues pass for breathing Men.
Searching "stamp" and "thought" in HDIS (Poetry)
Over 15 entries hits in ECCO and ESTC (1713, 1715, 1724, 1735, 1744, 1767, 1771, 1776, 1780, 1789, 1790, 1795, 1796, 1797).

See An Essay on the Different Stiles of Poetry. (London: Printed for Benj. Tooke, at the Middle-Temple-Gate in Fleet-street, 1713).

Parnell's first published poem. Appears to be first added to the 6th edition of Poems on Several Occasions in 1735. Found also in Miscellaneous Poems, Original and Translated, by Several Hands (1724), p. 278 <Link to ECCO>. Also in vol. III of Bell's Classical Arrangement of Poetry (1789), p. 8 <Link to ECCO>.

Reading and searching Collected Poems of Thomas Parnell, eds. Claude Julien Rawson and F. P. Lock. (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1989). Compare "To ------ on the various Styles of Poetry," from the Satires Notebook. Parnell manuscript among the Congleton papers. Poems dated 1702 to 1713. Described in Rawson and Lock, pp. 604-5.
Date of Entry

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