Anna Lætitia Barbauld

Here you will find the Poem An Inventory of the Furniture in Dr. Priestley's Study of poet Anna Lætitia Barbauld

An Inventory of the Furniture in Dr. Priestley's Study

A map of every country known,
 With not a foot to call his own.
 A list of folks that kicked a dust
 On this poor globe, from Ptol. the First;
 He hopes,-- indeed it is but fair,--
 Some day to get a corner there.
 A group of all the British kings,
 Fair emblem! on a packthread swings.
 The Fathers, ranged in goodly row,
 A decent, venerable show,
 Writ a great while ago, they tell us,
 And many an inch o'ertop their fellows.
 A Juvenal to hunt for mottos;
 And Ovid's tales of nymphs and grottos.
 The meek-robed lawyers all in white;
 Pure as the lamb,-- at least, to sight.
 A shelf of bottles, jar and phial,
 By which the rogues he can defy all,--
 All filled with lightning keen and genuine, 20 And many a little imp he'll pen you in;
 Which, like Le Sage's sprite, let out,
 Among the neighbours makes a rout;
 Brings down the lightning on their houses,
 And kills their geese, and frights their spouses.
 A rare thermometer, by which
 He settles, to the nicest pitch,
 The just degrees of heat, to raise
 Sermons, or politics, or plays.
 Papers and books, a strange mixed olio,
 From shilling touch to pompous folio;
 Answer, remark, reply, rejoinder,
 Fresh from the mint, all stamped and coined here;
 Like new-made glass, set by to cool,
 Before it bears the workman's tool.
 A blotted proof-sheet, wet from Bowling.
 --'How can a man his anger hold in?'--
 Forgotten rimes, and college themes,
 Worm-eaten plans, and embryo schemes;--
 A mass of heterogeneous matter,
 A chaos dark, no land nor water;--
 New books, like new-born infants, stand,
 Waiting the printer's clothing hand;--
 Others, a mottly ragged brood,
 Their limbs unfashioned all, and rude,
 Like Cadmus' half-formed men appear;
 One rears a helm, one lifts a spear,
 And feet were lopped and fingers torn
 Before their fellow limbs were born;
 A leg began to kick and sprawl
 Before the head was seen at all,
 Which quiet as a mushroom lay
 Till crumbling hillocks gave it way;
 And all, like controversial writing,
 Were born with teeth, and sprung up fighting.

 'But what is this,' I hear you cry,
 'Which saucily provokes my eye?'--
 A thing unknown, without a name,
 Born of the air and doomed to flame.