In earliest times, ere man had learn'd

First Line In earliest times, ere man had learn'd
Author Charles Yorke
Date 1770

Ode [Literature; Classical themes].

Transcribe from Yorke, Charles. "Stanzas, in the manner of Waller: occasioned by a Receipt to make Ink, given to the Author by a Lady." The Gentleman's Magazine: And Historical Chronicle, vol. 40, January 1770, p. 39. British Periodicals, ProquestID: 8304960. 



In earliest times, ere man had learn'd 

His sense in writing to impart,

With inward anguish oft he burn'd,

His friend unconscious of the smart. 


Alone he pin'd in thickest shade,

Near murm'ring waters sooth'd his grief, 

Of senseless rocks companions made, 

And from their echoes sought relief. 


Cadmus, 'tis said, did first reveal

How letters should the mind express,

And taught to grave with pointed steel, 

On waxen tablets its distress. 


Soon was the feeble waxen trace

Supply'd by Ink's unfading spot,

Which to remotest climes conveys,

In clearest marks, the secret thought. 


Blest be his chymic hand that gave

The world to know so great a good!

Hard! that his name it should not save,

Who first pour'd forth the fable flood. 


'Tis this consigns to endless praise

The hero's valour, stateman's art,

Historic truth and fabling lays,

The maiden's eyes, the lover's heart. 


If still oblivion's Lethe live

Immortal in poetic lore,

What honours shall the stream receive

Sacred to memr'y's better pow'r!


Who now from Helicon's fam'd well

The drops celestial would request,

When by Ink's magic he can spell

The image of his faithful breast?


This kindly spares the modest tongue

To speak aloud the pleasing pain;

Aided by this, in tuneful song

Fond vows the virgin-paper stain. 


Though stain'd, yet innocent of fame,

No blush th'indignant reader warms, 

If well express'd the poet's flame

Inspir'd by fair Maria's charms.