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The Flattering Mill, by William Cowper
The Flattering Mill: An Illustration
- WHEN a bar of pure silver or ingot of gold
- Is sent to be flatted or wrought into length,
- It is pass'd between cylinders often, and roll'd
- In an engine of utmost mechanical strength.
- Thus tortured and squeezed, at last it appears
- Like a loose heap of ribbon, a glittering show,
- Like music it tinkles and rings in your ears,
- And warm'd by the pressure is all in a glow.
- This process achiev'd, it is doom'd to sustain
- The thump-after-thump of a gold-beater's mallet,
- And at last is of service in sickness or pain
- To cover a pill from a delicate palate.
- Alas for the Poet, who dares undertake
- To urge reformation of national ill!
- His head and his heart are both likely to ache
- With the double employment of mallet and mill.
- If he wish to instruct, he must learn to delight,
- Smooth, ductile, and even, his fancy must flow,
- Must tinkle and glitter like gold to the sight,
- And catch in its progress a sensible glow.
- After all he must beat it as thin and as fine
- As the leaf that enfolds what an invalid swallows,
- For truth is unwelcome, however divine,
- And unless you adorn it, a nausea follows.
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