1638 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Davenant

William Habington, "To my Friend, Will. Davenant" Davenant, Madagascar and other Poems (1638) sig. A7v-A8.



I crouded 'mongst the first, to see the Stage
(Inspir'd by thee) strike wonder in our Age,
By thy bright fancie dazled: Where each Sceane
Wrought like a charme, and forc't the Audience leane
To th' passion of thy Pen: Thence Ladies went
(Whose absence Lovers sigh'd for) to repent
Their unkind scorne; And Courtiers, who by art
Made love before, with a converted hart,
To wed those Virgins, whom they woo'd t' abuse;
Both rendred Hymen's pros'lits by the Muse.

But others who were proofe 'gainst Love, did sit
To learne the subtle Dictats of thy Wit;
And as each profited, tooke his degree,
Master, or Batchelor, in Comedie.
Who on the Stage, though since they venter'd not,
Yet on some Lord, or Lady, had their plot
Of gaine, or favour: Ev'ry nimble jest
They spake of thine, b'ing th' entrance to a Feast,
Or neerer whisper: Most thought fit to be
So farre concluded Wits, as they knew thee.

But here the Stage thy limit was. Kings may
Find proud ambition humbled at the sea,
Which bounds dominion: But the nobler flight
Of Poesie, hath a supremer right
To Empire, and extends her large command
Where ere th' invading Sea assaults the land.

Ev'n Magascar (which so oft hath been
Like a proud Virgin tempted, yet still seen
Th' Enemy Court the Wind for flight) doth lie
A trophie now of thy Wits Victorie:
Nor yet disdains destruction to her state,
Encompast with thy Laurell in her fate.