1805 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ben Jonson

C., "On the Dramatic Powers of Shakspeare and Jonson" European Magazine 47 (March 1805) 211.



At the foot of Parnassus we oft
See the classical student, well letter'd;
While the darling of Nature aloft
Sits sportive, by learning unfetter'd.

The correct and the regular line
Rough pedants may hew from the grammar;
But the child who is touch'd by the Nine
Will in leading-strings melody stammer.

Old Ben knew the Muses by sight,
But receiv'd from them very few favours;
They thought him a pains-taking Wight,
But they never made easy his labours.

Young Shakspeare was lov'd by them all,
They thought him a fellow of parts;
The Graces too came at his call,
And he play'd 'till he won all their hearts.

In his works Ben has rudely display'd
Much humour, and judgment, and knowledge,
But too great a regard always paid
To the pride and the pomp of the College.

Young Shakspeare, unshackled, and free
From the clogs which encumber the fancy,
Rov'd about, unconfin'd, like the bee,
And suck'd sweets from the pink and the pansy.