1635 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Epigram to my Muse, the Lady Digby, on her Husband, Sir Kenelme Digby.

Underwoods consisting of Divers Poems. [In] The Workes of Benjamin Jonson. The Second Volume.

Ben Jonson


In this posthumously published and undated poem Ben Jonson hopes that Sir Kenelm Digby will admire his works next after Spenser's — a generous compliment to Spenser, and an acknowledgement of how high Spenser's reputation still stood in some quarters. Digby's Observations on the 22d stanza of the 9th canto of the 2d Book of Spenser's Fairy Queen was published in 1644.

Wells, Spenser Allusions (1972) also notes an allusion to a "blatant beast" in Jonson's "To my Detractor" (Herford and Simpson 8.408).



Tho', happy Muse, thou know my Digby well,
Yet read him in these lines: He doth excell
In honour, courtesie, and all the parts
Court can call hers, or Man could call his Arts.
Hee's prudent, valiant, just, and temperate;
In him all vertue is beheld in State:
And he is built like some imperiall roome
For that to dwell in, and be still at home.
His brest is a brave Palace, a broad Street
Where all heroique ample thoughts doe meet
Where Nature such a large survey hath ta'en,
As other soules, to his, dwell in a Lane:
Witnesse his Action done at Scanderone;
Upon my Birth-day the eleventh of June;
When the Apostle Barnabee the bright
Unto our yeare doth give the longest light.
In signe the Subject, and the Song will live,
Which I have vow'd posteritie to give.
Goe, Muse, in, and salute him. Say he be
Busie, or frowne at first; when he sees thee,
He will cleare up his forehead, thinke thou bring'st
Good Omen to him, in the note thou sing'st,
For he doth love my Verses, and will looke
Upon them, (next to Spenser's noble booke,)
And praise them too. O! what a fame 't will be?
What reputation to my lines, and me,
When hee shall read them at the Treasurers bord,
The knowing Weston, and that learned Lord
Allowes them? Then, what copies shall be had,
What transcripts begg'd? how cry'd up, and how glad,
Wilt thou be, Muse, when this shall them befall?
Being sent to one, they will be read of all.

[pp. 245-46]