"The Murmuring Poor, Who Will Not Fast In Peace"

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 279

Context: The poem begins by saying that poetry is not in a thriving condition, as it cannot find a market. The only poets who are doing well are those connected with newspapers, which have a virtual monopoly on the reading public. There is a multitude of newspapers: some are published daily, some thrice a week, some twice, and some weekly. They are of every shade of opinion: some support the ministry, some oppose it, and some shift from one side to the other as advantage seems to indicate. There is even one impartial newspaper. They come out in the morning, in the evening, and in the intervening hours; they are ephemera, lasting less than a day; like ephemeral insects, they die before the morning after the day on which they are born. Some papers are frankly scurrilous, some ostensibly moral, but even these contain their quota of filth in the back pages. Because of their inaccuracy, everyone is ill informed upon the truth; the papers cannot lie as fast as the public will believe. The poet asks the papers not to get their news about such things as rising taxes, the hungry poor that complain about their poverty, political gossip, and foreign affairs from ill-informed sources:

But oh! ye Muses, keep your votary's feet
From tavern-haunts where politicians meet;
Where rector, doctor, and attorney pause,
First on each parish, then each public cause:
Indited roads, and rates that still increase;
The murmuring poor, who will not fast in peace;
Election zeal and friendship, since declined;
A tax commuted, or a tithe in kind;
The Dutch and Germans kindling into strife;
Dull port and poachers vile! the serious ills of life.

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