1637 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Heywood

Shakerley Marmion, "To my much respected Friend, Master Thomas Heywood, and of his Booke of his Majesties great Ship" Heywood, A True Description of his Majesties Royall Ship (1637) Sigs A3v-A4v.



Now for an Homer whose immortall Verse,
In well lim'd lines, and raptures might rehearse
The bravery of this Vessell, he'd have found
A way fit to express her, and have crownd
Her stately Fabricke, with invention,
As large and stately as her selfe. Not one
Calliope, but the whole Muses Quire
Had bin invoak'd, his fancy to inspire.
He would have told, how Jove in Counsell sate,
And all the gods determin'd of Her fate.
The Grecian Argo, that now shines in glory
A Constellation, had bin lost in Story.
This only had bin stellified, and made
The Subject of an intyre Iliade.
He would have told how well she had bin wrought,
Such wonders of her frame, and all but truth,
Would have so fir'd the Macedonian Youth,
And his proud thoughts into such passions hurl'd,
He would have priz'd her, 'bove another World.
Her, Neptune at first sight embrac'd, and gave
Her power to insult upon each swelling Wave.
Then layd his Trident on her Decke, and swore
To fill her wombe with the rich Indian Ore.
This Homer would have told, and for tuition,
The Deities stood all in Competition.
The Winds too should have struggled in their jayles,
And broke out, to salute her pregnant Sayles.
Scylla with her fierce Dogs, had barkt no more;
Nor should the Sea-man heard Charibdis roare.
This Ship alone had torne their stony jawes,
And with her Bullets surfeited their mawes.
This Homer would have told, but in what state
And strength of verse, no Muse can arbitrate.
Achilles brazen Launce had not been nam'd,
To shake downe Towers, nor that great Machine fram'd
By Pallas Art, wherein were Captive led
A thousand Conquerors, that ruin'd
Priams sure thou, and did levill lay
With the base ground, the pride of Asia.
Had this brave Ship rod there, no need had been
Of Ajax, Nestor, or of Idomen,
Nor of Achilles Mirmidons; each stone
Had owned its ruine to her strength alone.
Then after the long siege, and ten yeares stir,
Ulysses wandrings had beene put in Her.
Thus the true Prince of Poets, Homer would
Have in Fames lasting Booke Her name inrol'd.
And they that shall of such a Subject sing,
Their lines deserve acceptance from a King.
But tell me Muse, though I must ever keepe
Close to the shore, not launch into the Deepe.
Yet deigne to tell, by a Propheticke way,
What neighbour Nations censure, what they say?
The Spaniard with his politicke shrug, cryes out,
There's some designe in hand, and without doubt
'Gainst our late fleete: is there no way to take her,
Or build the like? could not our Jesuites make her
Turne Romist? and then they discourse the fight
Of old Lepanto, and of eighty eight.
The neighbour French, looke onely by meere shew,
And outside gawdinesse, that thinke we owe
Much for intelligence, 'cause they impose
Their fancies on us, how to cut our clothes,
And cringe, and congee; yet the just report
Of this Ships Architecture, does extort
This truth from their beliefe: she was no vaine
Invention, nor kick shawe of her braine;
They never could aspire to it; ('tis knowne)
And I am glad this fashion is our owne.
The numerous Dutch, stil thriving in their purse;
That World-like, do enjoy the happy curse,
To wander through the seas, that labour more
Than Bees, and sucke the honey from each shore:
In all their travels sware they never saw
One so much water, so much honour draw.
What else should be supply'd, I must bequeath
To thee, friend Heywood, who hast Royall leave
To publish it unto the worlds broad eyes,
And art well skild in all her properties.