1638 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ben Jonson

Thomas May, "An Elegie upon Benjamin Johnson" Jonsonius Virbius: or the Memorie of Ben Johnson revived (1638) 21.



Though once high Statius o'er dead Lucans hearse,
Would seeme to feare his owne Hexameters,
And thought a greater Honour then that feare,
He could not bring to Lucans sepulcher;
Let not our Poets feare to write of thee,
Greate JOHNSON, King of English Poetry
In any English Verse, let none whoe'er,
Bring so much emulation as to feare:
But pay without comparing thoughts at all,
Their tribute verses to thy funerall;
Nor thinke whate'er they write on such a name,
Can be amisse; if high, it fits Thy Fame:
If low, it rights Thee more, and makes men see,
That English Poetry is dead with Thee,
Which in Thy Genius did so strongly live,
Nor will I here particularly strive,
To praise each well composed piece of thine;
Or shew what judgement, Art and Wit did joyne
To make them up, but onely (in the way
That Famianus honour'd Virgill) say,
The Muse herself was link't so neere to thee,
Who e'er saw one, must needs the other see;
And if in thy expressions ought seem'd scant,
Not thou, but Poetry it selfe did want.