1633 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Taylor the Water Poet

Martin Parker, "To that mighty Neptune of the Thames, great Master of the ancient and renowned Fraternity of Oares and Scullers, his ever honored and worthily admired Friend, Master John Taylor, the Water-Poet: M. P. wisheth all the Content that Land and Water can affoord him" Parker, The Legend of Leonard Lackwit (1633) sig. A3-A3v.



A Boate, a Boate, John Taylor, come make haste,
Heere comes a Knight that faine would have a cast:
He has nor wit nor Coyne, and thoult not care
For taking paines with such a paltry faire:
Yet prethee doo't this one time for my sake:
Tis not the worst paines that thou e'r didst take.
If thou object and thinke it is unfit,
That thus I play the foole through lacke of Wit,
(For such a Booke to crave thy patronage,
Who art for Wit the mirrour of our Age)
In my most just defence I thus reply,
Why mayest not thou lack Wit as well as I?
I knowing that thou didst beget and name
Sir Gregory Non-sence (to thy long liv'd fame,)
Thought it expedient and most requisite
That thou shouldst Patronize my lack of Wit.
Thou canst speake non-sence where the water's roare,
And so can I lacke Wit upon the shoare:
Betweene us two all Men may understand
There's as much knavery by sea and land,
As all the world beside (so people say)
For oft the foole's the wisest in the play.
It may be thought that thou art no small foole,
Thou shew'dst great wit in writing great Otoole.
Well, to be briefe, I prethee entertaine
This simple Knight sprung from my simple braine,
And in like simple plaine true love Ile be,
While I can write, or speake, thy friend
M. P.