1632 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ben Jonson

Thomas Randolph, "A Gratulatory to Mr. Ben. Johnson for his adopting of him to be his Son" 1632 ca.; Randolph, Poems (1638) 22-24.



I was not borne to Helicon, nor dare
Presume to thinke my selfe a Muses heire.
I have no title to Parnassus hill,
Nor any acre of it by the will
Of a dead Ancestour, nor could I bee
Ought but a tenant unto Poetrie.
But thy Adoption quits me of all feare,
And makes me challenge a childs portion there.
I am a kinne to Hero's being thine,
And part of my alliance is divine.
Orpheus, Musaeus, Homer too; beside
Thy Brothers by the Roman Mothers side;
As Ovid, Virgil, and the Latine Lyre,
That is so like thy Horace; the whole quire
Of Poets are by thy Adoption, all
My uncles; thou hast given me pow'r to call
Phoebus himselfe my grandsire; by this graunt
Each Sister of the nine is made my Aunt.
Go you that reckon from a large descent
Your lineall Honours, and are well content
To glory in the age of your great name,
Though on a Herralds faith you build the same:
I do not envy you, nor thinke you blest
Though you may beare a Gorgon on your Crest
By direct line from Perseus; I will boast
No farther then my Father; that's the most
I can, or should be proud of; and I were
Unworthy his adoption, if that here
I should be dully modest; boast I must
Being sonne of his Adoption, not his lust.
And to say truth, that which is best in mee
May call you father, 'twas begot by thee.
Have I a sparke of that coelestiall flame
Within me, I confesse I stole the same
Prometheus like, from thee; and may I feed
His vulture, when I dare deny the deed.
Many more moones thou hast, that shine by night,
All Bankrups, wer't not for a borrow'd light;
Yet can forsweare it; I the debt confesse,
And thinke my reputation ne're the lesse.
For Father let me be resolv'd by you;
Is't a disparagement from rich Peru
To ravish gold; or theft, for wealthy Ore
To ransack Tagus, or Pactolus shore?
Or does he wrong Alcinous, that for want
Doth take from him a sprig or two, to plant
A lesser Orchard? sure it cannot bee:
Nor is it theft to steale some flames from thee,
Grant this, and I'le cry guilty, as I am,
And pay a filiall reverence to thy name.
For when my Muse upon obedient knees,
Askes not a Fathers blessing, let her leese
The fame of this Adoption; 'tis a curse
I wish her 'cause I cannot thinke a worse.
And here, as Piety bids me, I intreat
Phoebus to lend thee some of his own heat,
To cure thy Palsie; else I will complaine
He has no skill in hearbs; Poets in vaine
Make him the God of Physicke; 'twere his praise
To make thee as immortall as thy Baies;
As his owne Daphne; 'twere a shame to see
The God, not love his Preist, more then his Tree.
But if heaven take thee, envying us thy Lyre,
'Tis to pen Anthems for an Angels quire.