1641
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Poet's Blind Mans Bough.

The Poet's Blind Mans Bough, or have among you my blind Harpers: being a pretty Medicine to cure the dimme, double, envious, partiall, and diabolicall Eyesight and Judgement of those dogmaticall, schismaticall, aenigmaticall, and now gramaticall Authors.

Martin Parker


Edmund Spenser appears in a list of poets who, like Martin Parker, dare to put their names to their publications.

Joseph Haslewood: "The present vindicatory poem seems the result of repeated attacks by writers, whose local productions lie buried in the incongruous mass that issued from the press between 1640 and 1650: a mass that might occupy the life of a determined pioneer of literature to present a brief analysis of, and which has little to interest beyond personal scurrility on the one side, and the glosing arguments of the supporters of a commonwealth on the other. Parker, whose pretentions as a poet are little above mediocrity, contrives to introduce himself with precedence of the most esteemed favourites of the muse He tells the nameless authors of slanderous Pasquils, though he might with 'Iambean rimes ironicall' make ropes to hang them, yet his cruelty is not such, and he takes their abuses as jest, giving such ideots leave to write as eagles only take slight notice of crows" British Bibliographer 2 (1812) 432.

John Payne Collier: "A very badly printed, and not well-penned tract.... The object of Parker was to reply with severity to some anonymous scribblers, who had assailed him.... He asserts that he had never written anything anonymously: — 'What ever yet was published by mee | Was knowne by Martin Parker, or M. P.;' and he follows it up by stating that such had been the usual, and honest, course of his predecessors and contemporaries" Bibliographical and Critical Account (1866) 3:125.

Douglas Bush: "Parker could be sensational or didactic, but he was often at his best in humorous songs of wives, husbands, and hussies.... About 1638 Parker's muse became outspokenly royalist and he was named in the Root and Branch Petition of December 1640 as one of the authors of 'lascivious, idle, and unprofitable Books'" OHEL (1945) 48-49.



But my desire and intent is that,
Your folly being in generall aimed at
Each one may take his share of shame and say,
In doing this I have not shewed fair play:
For what is either more or lesse set forth
'Gainst persons in particular; what worth
Or fame among the vulgar it may win
Without the Authors name, 't hath ever bin
Held as a Lybell both in Law and sence,
Then he who writes (what e're be his pretence)
His name should justifie what he hath done,
This maxim I have alwaies thought upon
Whatever yet was published by mee,
Was knowne by Martin Parker, or M. P.
All Poets (as adition to their fames)
Have by their Works eternized their names,
As Chaucer, Spencer, and that noble earle,
Of Surrie thought it the most precious pearle,
That dick'd his honour, to Subscribe to what
His high engenue ever amed at
Sydney and Shakspire, Drayton, Withers and
Renowned Jonson glory of our Land:
Deker, Learn'd Chapman, Haywood al thought good,
To have their names in publike understood,
And that sweet Seraph of our Nation, Quarles
(In spight of each planatick cur that snarles)
Subscribes to his Celestiall harmony,
While Angels chant his Dulcid melodie.
And honest John from the water to the land
Makes us all know an honour him by's hand;
And many more whose names I should have told
In their due place, in famous record inrould.
Have thought it honest honour to set downe
Their names or letters to what is their owne:
But you a litter of blind whelps begot
By Cerberus, the scumme of natur's pot,
Suborn'd by malice and a litle gaines,
Invent and publish what your frothy braines,
Envaporate some prose and some in rimes,
Onely to please the fancie of the time
Idle Chemeras, structures seeming faire,
Which vew'd, are prov'd meere castles in the aire.
Almanake Makers, were they of your minde,
(In stead of Saints to very day asign'd)
Might make a transmutation, and name all
By your quotidian Pamphlets criticall,
And dayes canicular should last all th' yeare,
If curish writers they may domineere;
The Presse is overprest, and (justly) grones
Under the burthen of those heavie tones
Of Scritch-oule musick, threatning death and hell,
One striving all in malice to excell. . . .

[Sig. A4-A4v]