1645 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joshua Sylvester

George Wither, in Great Assises holden upon Parnassus (1645) 13-14.



Thus spake Britanicus: while many smil'd;
But Sands look'd pale, and Sylvester wax'd wild
For anger and disdaine; Apollo then
Thus interpos'd, to vindicate these men,
Britanicus (said hee) we have too long
The language heard of thy traducing tongue,
But Sylvesters, and Sands his worth is such,
That thy reproach cannot their honour touch:
Since Kings for Majesty, and arts renown'd,
Have with receptions kind, their labours crown'd.
Besides, wee are inclin'd by some respects,
Challeng'd from us, by the infirmer sex,
These writers of Parnassus to support,
To please the fancy of that female sort,
Whom want of these translations might spurre on,
For to acquire, and get more tongues then one:
Which if they should accomplish, men might rue
Those mischiefes which would thereupon ensue.
But if nor Sands, nor Sylvester can merit,
The titles of true Poets to inherit,
For what they have perform'd, yet wee relie
So much upon their truth, and loyaltie,
That wee cause them to passe upon thy tryall,
In spite of thy exception or denyall.
Thus spake Apollo....