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Broadside entitled 'A Satyr upon Allan Ramsay'


This ballad begins: 'D----d brazen Face, how could you hope / To imitate Horatian Strain, / A Labour roo refin'd for Pope, / A Task which pussel'd Prior's Pen.' Because, at the time this was printed, 'damned' was considered a strong word to put into print, the dashes represent the other letters. The 'D' of the first word has been illuminated; a swan nestles inside it and foliage decorates the outside. No publication details are present.

Allan Ramsay (1685-1758) is best remembered today for his Scots works, such as 'The Gentle Shepherd' but he did write in English as well. In 1721 he published 'Poems', which included five translations of Horace's 'Odes'. The author of this piece believes he should have 'Let Horace sleep', and mentions the poor attempts of others, such as Alexander Pope (1688-1744) and Matthew Prior (1664-1721).

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable date published: 1720-   shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(134)
Broadside entitled 'A Satyr upon Allan Ramsay'
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