1647 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Fletcher

William Habington, "On Master John Fletcher's Dramaticall Poems" Beaumont and Fletcher, Comedies and Tragedies (1647) sig. b3v.



Great tutelary Spirit of the Stage!
FLETCHER! I can fix nothing but my rage
Before thy Workes, 'gainst their officious crime
Who print thee now, in the worst scaene of Time.
For me, uninterrupted hadst thou slept
Among the holly shades and close hadst kept
The mistery of thy lines, till men might bee
Taught how to reade, and then, how to reade thee.
But now thou art expos'd to th' common fate,
Revive then (mighty Soule!) and vindicate
From th' Ages rude affronts thy injured fame,
Instruct the Envious, with how chast a flame
Thou warmst the Lover; how severely just
Thou wert to punish, if he burnt to lust.
With what a blush thou didst the Maid adorne,
But tempted, with how innocent a scorne.
How Epidemick errors by thy Play
Were taught out of esteeme, so purg'd away.
How to each sence thou so didst vertue fit,
That all grew vertuous to be thought t' have wit.
But this was much too narrow for thy art,
Thou didst frame governments, give Kings their part,
Teach them how neere to God, while just they be;
But how dissolv'd, stretcht forth to Tyrannie.
How Kingdomes, in their channell, safely run,
But rudely overflowing are undone.
Though vulgar spirits Poets scorne or hate:
Many may beget, A Poet can create.