1647 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Fletcher

Aston Cokayne, "On the deceased Authour, Mr. John Fletcher, his Plays; and especially, The Mad Lover" Beaumont and Fletcher, Comedies and Tragedies (1647) sigs a3v-a4.



Whilst his well organ'd body doth retreat
To its first matter, and the formall heat
Triumphant sits in judgement to approve
Pieces above our Candour and our love:
Such as dare boldly venter to appeare
Unto the curious eye, and Criticke ear:
Lo the Mad Lover in these various times
Is press'd to life t' accuse us of our crimes.
Whil'st Fletcher liv'd, who equall to him writ
Such lasting Monuments of naturall wit?
Others might draw their lines with sweat, like those
That (with much paines) a Garrison inclose;
Whilst his sweet fluent veine did gently runne
As uncontrold, and smoothly as the Sun.
After his Death our Theatres did make
Him in his own unequald Language speake:
And now when all the Muses out of their
Approved modesty silent appear
This Play of Fletchers braves the envious light
As wonder of our eares once, now our sight.
Three and fourfold best Poet, who the Lives
Of Poets, and of Theatres survives!
A Groome, or Ostler of some wit, may bring
His Pegasus to the Castalian Spring;
Boast he a race ore the Pharsalian plaine,
Or happy Tempe valley dares maintaine;
Brag at one leape upon the double Cliffe
(Were it as high as monstrous Tennariffe)
Or farre-renown'd Parnassus he will get,
And there (t' amaze the world) confirm his seate:
When our admired Fletcher vaunts not ought,
And slighted every thing he writ as naught;
While all our English wondring world (in's cause)
Made this great City eccho with applause.
Read him therefore all that can read, and those
That cannot, learne, If y' are not Learnings foes,
And willfully resolved to refuse
The gentle Raptures of this happy Muse.
From thy greatcConstellation (noble Soule)
Look on this Kingdome, suffer not the whole
Spirit of Poesie retire to Heaven,
But make us entertaine what thou hast given.
Earthquakes and Thunder Diapasons make
The Seas vast roare, and irresistlesse shake
Of horrid winds, a sympathie compose;
So that in these there's musicke in the close:
And though they seem great discords in our eares,
They are not so to them above the Spheares.
Granting these Musicek, how much sweeter's that
Mnemosyne's daughter's voyces doe create?
Since Heaven, and Earth, and Seas, and Ayre consent
To make an Harmony (the Instrument,
Their own agreeing selves) shall we refuse
The Musicke which the Deities doe use?
Troys ravish't Gamymed doth sing to Jove,
And Phoebus selfe playes on his Lyre above.
The Cretan Gods, or glorious men, who will
Imitate right, must wonder at thy skill,
Best Poet of thy times, or he will prove
As mad as thy brave Memnon was with love.