1683
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Mr. Creech on his Translation of Lucretius.

Titus Lucretius Carus his Six Books of Epicurean Philosophy, done into English Verse, with Notes. The Third Edition. [Thomas Creech, trans.]

Edmund Waller


Thomas Creech, who "writ'st for thy delight and not for bread" escapes the unhappy fate of Spenser and Tasso. The poem, possibly by Waller, is signed "E. W."

Anthony Wood: "This translation was reprinted at Oxon 1683, in oct. and, being esteemed an excellent piece, was usher'd into the world by the recommendatory poems of John Dryden poet laureat, Tho. Flatman, N. Tate sometime of the univ. of Dublin, Aphra Behn, Tho. Otway, John Evelin sen. Edm. Waller of Beconsfield, and two copies from Cambridge, one made by T. Adams fellow of King's college, and the other by Rich. Duke fellow of Trin. who entred himself a member of Ch. Ch. in Oxon, being then a preb. of Gloucester" Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91, 1721) ed. Bliss (1815) 4:739.

The attribution was challenged by Elijah Fenton in his 1729 edition of Waller's Poems: "I can with great confidence assure the reader, that since this edition was printed off, I have discover'd that these verses to Mr. Creech were written by a person still living; who, though he has convers'd familiarly with the best Poets of our nation for almost half a century, never profess'd himself a member of the faculty: his name, as well as the motive of his writing them, I am obliged to conceal" Observations on some of Mr. Waller's Poems (1729) lxxviii.

Dorothy E. Mason notes six allusions to "Gloriana," "fairy Arthurs shield," Muipotmos, and "Talus" in Waller's Poems (1645); see Wells, Spenser Allusions (1972) 217-18.

Thomas Hearne: "Mr. Creech, fellow of All Souls' college, hanged himself in the year 1700. He was one of the most applauded wits we had, and for several curious pieces deserved well of the commonwealth of learning. By the coroner's inquest he was found non compos mentis. The evidence for it was very good, being such as had observed him to be melancholy for a some considerable time. He was upon a new edition of the ancient father Justine Martyr, and had prepared several materials for it" November 2, 1726; in Reliquae Hearniae, ed. Bliss (1869) 2:266.



What all Men wish'd, tho few cou'd hope to see,
We are now blest with, and oblig'd by Thee.
Thou from the Antient Learned Latine Store,
Giv'st us one Author, and we hope for more.
May They enjoy thy Thoughts — let not the Stage
The Idl'st Moment of thy Hours engage.
Each Year that Place some wond'rous Monster breeds
And the Wits Garden is o'er run with Weeds.
There Farce is Comedy, Bombast call'd Strong,
Soft words, with nothing in 'em, make a Song.
'Tis hard to say they steal them now adaies,
For sure the Ancients never wrote such Plays.
These scribling Insects have what they deserve,
Not Plenty, nor the Glory for to starve.
That Spencer knew, That Tasso felt before,
And Death found surly Ben exceeding poor.
Heaven turn the Omen from their Image here,
May he with Joy the well-plac'd Lawrel wear:
Great Virgil's happier fortune may he find,
And be our Ceasar, like Augustus, kind.

But let not this disturb Thy tuneful head,
Thou writ'st for thy Delight, and not for Bread.
Thou art not curst to write thy Verse with care,
But art above what other Poets fear.
What may we not expect from such a hand,
That has, with Books, Himself at free Command?
Thou Know'st in Youth what Age has sought in vain,
And bring'st forth Sons without a Mothers Pain:
So easy is thy Sense, Thy Verse so sweet,
Thy words so proper, and Thy Phrase so fit.
We read, and read again, and still admire
Whence came this Youth, and whence this wondrous fire.

Pardon this Rapture, Sir, but who can be
Cold and unmov'd, yet have his thoughts on Thee?
Thy goodness may My several faults forgive,
And by your help these wretched lines may live:
But if when view'd by your severer sight,
They seem unworthy to behold the Light;
Let 'em with speed in deserv'd flames be thrown,
They'll send no sighs, nor murmur out a groan,
But dying silently Your Justice own.
London, Feb. 6.

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