Friday, 29 July 2011

Grotesque Architecture and Horace

The Art of Architecture

In Imitation of Horace’s Art of Poetry

John Gwynn


Should you, my Lord, a wretched Picture view;
Which some unskilful Copying-Painter drew,
Without Design, Intolerably bad,
Would you not smile, and think the Man was mad?
Just so a tasteless Structure; where each Part
Is void of Order, Symmetry, or Art:
Alike offends, when we the Mimick Place;
Compare with Beauty, Harmony, or Grace.
Painters, and Architects are not confin’d
By Pedant-Rules to circumscribe the Mind:
But give a Loose, their Genius to improve;
And midst the pleasing Fields of Science rove.
But then the Laws of Nature; and of Sense,
Forbid us with Contraries to dispense:
To paint a Snake, engend’ring with a Dove;
Or build a Prison ’midst a shady Grove.
At setting out, some promise mighty Things,
Temples they form, and Palaces for Kings;
With a few Ornaments profusely drest,
They shine through all the Dulness of the rest.

At some long Vista’s End, the Structure stands;
The Spot a Summit, and a View commands:
The wide-extended Plain appears below,
And Streams, which through the verdant Meadows flow.
Here Towns, and Spires, and Hills o’er Hills extend;
There shady Groves, and Lawns, the Prospect end.
Through lavish Ornaments, the Fabrick shines
With wild Festoons of Fruits, and clust’ring Vines:
Luxuriant Decorations fill each Space,
And vast Incumbrances; void of Rules or Grace;
Without Coherence, crowded in each Place.

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