1650 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Davenant

Abraham Cowley, "To Sir William D'Avenant, upon his two first Books of Gondibert" Davenant, A Discourse upon Gondibert (1650) sig. A3-A3v.



Methinks Heroick Poesie, till now
Like some fantastick Fairy land did show;
Gods, Devils, Nymphs, Witches, and Giants race,
And all but man, in mans best work had place.
Thou like some worthy Knight, with sacred Arms
Dost drive the Monsters thence, and end the Charms:
In stead of those, dost Men and Manners plant,
The things which that rich soyl did chiefly want.
But even thy Mortals doe their Gods excell,
Taught by the Muse to Fight and Love so well.

By fatall hands whilst present Empires fall,
Thine from the grave past Monarchies recall.
So much more thanks from humane kinde does merit
The Poets Fury, then the Zelots Spirit.
And from the grave thou mak'st this Empire rise,
Not like some dreadfull Ghost t' affright our Eyes,
But with more beauty and triumphant state,
Then when it crown'd at proud Verona sate.
So will our God re-build Mans perish'd frame,
And raise him up much better, yet the same:
So God-like Poets doe past things rehearse,
Not change, but heighten Nature with their Verse.

With shame me thinks great Italy must see
Her Conqu'rors call'd to life again by thee;
Call'd by such powerfull Arts, that ancient Rome
May blush no less to see her Wit o'rcome.
Some men their Fancies like their Faiths derive;
And count all ill but but that which Rome does give;
The marks of Old and Catholick would finde;
To the same Chair would Truth and Fiction binde.
Thou in these beaten paths disdain'st to tread,
And scorn'st to Live by robbing of the Dead.
Since Time does all things change, thou thinkst not fit
This latter Age should see all new, but Wit.
Thy Fancy, like a Flame, her way does make;
And leaves bright tracks for following Pens to take.
Sure 'twas this noble boldness of the Muse
Did thy desire to seek new Worlds infuse;
And ne'r did Heaven so much a Voyage bless,
If thou canst Plant but there with like success.