1605 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joshua Sylvester

R. R., "In Commendation of this worthy Work" Joshua Sylvester, Bartas, his Devine Weekes and Workes (1605) sig. A6v.



Foole that I was; I thought in younger times,
That all the Muses had their graces sowne
In Chaucers, Spensers, and sweet Daniels Rimes;
(So, good seemes best, where better is unknowne)
While thus I dream't my busie phantasie,
Bod me awake, open mine eyes, and see

How SALUST's English Sun (our SYLVESTER)
Makes Moone and Starres to vaile: and how the Sheaves
Of all his Brethren, bowing, doo preferre
His Fruites before their Winter-shaken Leaves:
So much (for Matter, and for Manner too)
Hath He out-gon those that the rest out-goe:

Let Gryll be Gryll: let Envies' vip'rous seed
Gnaw forth the brest which bred and fed the same;
Rest safe (sound Truth from feare is ever freed)
Malice may barke, but shall not bite thy Name:
JOSUA thy Name with BARTAS name shall live,
For double life you each to other give.

But, Mother Envie, if this Arras spunne
Of golden threds be seene of English eyes,
Why then (alas) our Cob-webs are undone:
But She, more subtile, then religious-wise,
Hateful, and hated, proud, and ignorant,
Pale, swolne as Toade (though customed to vaunt)

Now holds her Peace: but O, what Peace hath She
With Vertue? none: Therefore, defie her frowne.
Gainst greater force grows greater victorie:
As Camomile, the more you tread it downe,
The more it springs: Vertue despightfully
Used, doth use the more to fructifie,

And so do Thou, untill thy Mausole rare
Do fill this World with wonderment; and, that
In Venus Forme no clumsie fist may dare
To meddle with thy Pensill and thy Plat;
I fear thy life more, till thy goale be runne,
Then Wife her Spouse, or Father feares his Sonne.