1647 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Fletcher

John Denham, "On Mr. John Fletcher's Workes" Beaumont and Fletcher, Comedies and Tragedies (1647) sig. bv.



So shall we joy, when all whom Beasts and Wormes
Had turn'd to their owne substances and formes,
Whom Earth to Earth, or fire hath chang'd to fire,
Wee shall behold more then at first intire
As now we doe, to see all thine, thine owne
In this thy Muses Resurrection,
Whose scatter'd parts, from thy owne Race, more wounds
Hath suffer'd, then Acteon from his hounds;
Which first their Braines, and then their Bellies fed,
And from their excrements new Poets bred.
But now thy Muse inraged from urne
Like Ghosts of Murdred bodyes doth returne
To accuse the Murderers, to right the Stage,
And undeceive the long abused Age,
Which casts thy praise on them, to whom thy Wit
Gives not more Gold then they give drosse to it:
Who not content like fellons to purloyne,
Adde Treason to it, and debase thy Coyne.

But whither am I strayd? I need not raise
Trophies to thee from other Mens dispraise;
Nor is thy fame on lesser Ruines built,
Nor needs thy juster title the foule guilt
Of Eastern Kings, who to secure their Raigne,
Must have their Brothers, Sonnes, and Kindred slaine.
Then was wits Empire at the fatall height,
When labouring and sinking with its weight,
From thence a thousand lesser poets sprong
Like petty Princes from the fall of Rome.
When JOHNSON, SHAKESPEARE, and thy selfe did sit,
And sway'd in the Triumvirate of wit—
Yet what from JOHNSONS oyle and sweat did flow,
Or what more easie nature did bestow
On SHAKESPEARES gentler Muse, in thee full growne
Their Graces both appeare, yet so, that none
Can say here Nature ends, and Art begins
But mixt like th' Elements, and borne like twins,
So interleav'd, so like, so much the same,
None this meere Nature, that meere Art can name:
'Twas this the Ancients meant, Nature and Skill
Are the two topps of their Pernassus Hill.