1634 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Charles Fitzgeffrey

Henry Beesley, "To the reverend Author on his several Workes" Fitzgeffrey, The Blessed Birth-Day celebrated in some Pious Meditations (1634) sig. A4-A4v.



Sir, I not prise your witt, for that (all know)
Praises it self: each line that thence doth flow
Like to some pearle, or ray, or streame, well showes
The Mine, Sunne, Fountaine, whence it first arose.
But that which ravishes just praise from me,
Is the choice method of your Poetrie;
And that you could with such due equipage
Sure severall poems to your severall age:
So that in this your exemplary art
Acts both the Poets and the Preachers part.

Your younger wit, (as taking a delight
In bold endeavours) ventur'd to recite
The deeds of valiant Drake who by your skill,
And strong descriptions, goes that voiage still
Which once he did, and with full blasts of fame
Yet sailes (securely) round the earth againe.

Then, as experience taught you to survay
The Worlds conditions, your free Muse would play
In various Epigramms, where both for tongue,
Conceit, and choise of verse, you seeme to runne
With foremost Martiall, and so thrive therein;
That you come nearest to the Goale next him.

But having now retreated from the fome
Of surging youth, and safe at length come home
To quiet age, diviner thoughts inspire
Your pregnant fancy, and with holier fire
Inflame you to the sweet discovery
Of Heavenly mysteries: where most high
Must exercise your soaring braine, to tell
The Natalls of our Saviour, which so well
You have perform'd with each nice circumstance
Of time, and place, and persons, to advance
Such lofty wonders, that you make to us
Those miracles seeme more miraculous.

This is your praise: but will you heare me noise
The shame of others that grow old in toies,
Write plaies with spectacles, and spend an age
Past threescore yeares on sonnets, and the stage:
That chase their palsied fancies, and molest
With a forc't flame those embers that would rest:
That bald, and dry, and sere, and wither'd, yet
Yeild blossoms still, and chilblaines of their wit:
As if (like Hesiod's infants) they still were
But children at their almost hundreth yeare:
That thinke their wild inventions too much pent
In sacred taskes, and not their element
To be heavenly things, as if such stuff
Were not conceited, rich, and fine enough
For their loose numbers, or could not yeeld straines
Of matter high enough to fill their veines
With raptures; but O! how is this made vaine
By noble Bartas! whose Heroicke braine
Adorn'd Gods works, and like another light,
Pictur'd the whole creation to our sight.
Nay how is this made lye by those Saint-men,
(Those spheares of witt) Tertullian, Nazianzen,
Nissen, Lactantius, and more of that crue,
That could be Fathers, and yet Poets too;
And when they could not their rude enemies pierce
With gentle prose, they batter'd them with verse.

But let them passe, and sucke the empty shout
Of lewd applauses, which will shortly out
In stench, and rottennesse, and then commit
Their Authors to the Judgement of their wit.

But surely who would dye (as they should doe)
Good Poets, must first learne to be like you.