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VERSES PLACED OVER THE DOOR AT THE EN
TRANCE INTO THE APOLLO.
Welcome all who lead or follow
To the Oracle of Apollo —
Here he speaks out of his pottle,
Or the tripos, his tower bottle:
All his answers are divine,
Truth itself doth flow in wine.
Hang up all the poor hop-drinkers,
Cries old Sim, the king of skinkers;
He the half of life abuses,
That sits watering with the Muses.
Those dull girls no good can mean us;
Wine it is the milk of Venus,
And the poet's horse accounted:
Ply it, and you all are mounted.
'Tis the true Phobian liquor,
Cheers the brains, makes wit the quicker.
Pays all debts, cures all diseases,
And at once the senses pleases.
Welcome all who lead or follow,
To the Oracle of Apollo.
ON TIIE PORTRAIT OF SHAKESPEARE. 7
This figure that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut,
Wherein the graver had a strife
With Nature, to outdo the life:
Oh, could he but have drawn bis wit
As well in brass, as he has hit
His face, the print would then surpass
All that was ever writ in brass;
But since he cannot, reader, look
Not on his picture, but his book.
TO THE MEMORY OF MY BELOVED MASTER
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, AND WHAT HE HATH LEFT US.
To draw no envy, Shakespeare, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame;
While I confess thy writings to be such,
As neither man, nor muse, can praise too much.
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage.
But these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise;
For silliest ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;
portrait, prefixel to the folio edition of his works, 1623. Granger draws attention to the above lines, as bearing testimony to the fidelity of the likeness by one who knew the original well. In these verses, and the more elaborate tribute which follows, unsurpassed in discrimination and completeness of panegyric, it is imi possible not to be struck by the affectionate homage which this great poet pays to the memory of Shakespeare. From these pieces we derive the familiar term “gentle," anil the epithet “ sweet swan of Avon," which have now passer into common use, but were here first applieil to Shakespeare. There are other descriptive phrases to he found here which have also become current, such as “ Marlowe's mighty line.” — B.
Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin, where it seemed to raise.
These are, as some infàmous bawd, or whore,
Should praise a matron: what would hurt her
But thou art proof against them, and, indeed,
Above the ill-fortune of them, or the need.
I, therefore, will begin : Soul of the age !
The applause! delight! the wonder of
stage! My Shakespeare rise! I will not lodge thee by Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie A little further off, to make thee room : Thou art a monument without a tomb,
8 An allusion to an elegy on Shakespeare, by W. Basse. This elegy, curious in its way, is quoted by Whalley, and runs as follows:
" Renowned Spenser, lie a thought more nigh
To learned Chaucer ; and, rare Beaumont, lie
A little nearer Spenser, to make room
For Shakespeare in your threefold, fourfold tomb.
To lodge all four in one bed make a shift,
For, until doomsday hardly will a fifth,
Betwixt this day and that, by fates be slain,
For whom your curtains need be drawn again.
But if precedency in death doth bar
A fourth place in your sacred sepulchre,
Under this sable marble of thine own,
Sleep, rare tragedian, Shakespeare, sleep alone ;
Thy unmolested peace, in an unshared cave,
Possess as lord, not tenant of thy grave:
That unto us, and others, it may be
Honor hereafter to be laid by thee."
And art alive still, while thy book doth live
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
That I not mix thee so, my brain excuses,
I mean with great, but disproportioned Muses;
For if I thought my judgment were of years,
I should commit thee surely with thy peers,
And tell how far thou didst our Lily outshine,
Or sporting Kyd,10 or Marlow's mighty line, 11
And though thou hadst small Latin and less
From thence to honor thee, I will not seek
9 Lily is now better known as the originator of that affecter style of language and imagery called euphuism than by his plays, which were deficient in dramatic spirit, although they were full of fancy, and contain some delightful lyrics. They were chiefly written, lowever, as court performances, and are scarcely amenable to the same criticism as pieces strictly intended for the stage. For the most part, they more nearly resemble masques. B.
10 'Sporting' seems to be applied to Kyd in derision, for of all the contemporary dramatists he was the least fanciful or lively. He wrote Jeronimo and The Spanish Tragedy, pieces which deal largely in sanguinary horrors. Jonson was employed to supply additional scenes and speeches for The Spanish Tragedy. Kyd also translated Cornelia from the French of Garnier. - B.
11 The 'Inighty line' has, probably, a double signification, if it be true, as conjectured by Mr. Collier, that Marlow was the first poet who used blank verse on the stage, anıl that Tamburlaine was the first play in which the experiment was triedl. Independently, however, of that consideration, it applies with singular propriety to the verse of Marlow, which, disfigured by many of the vices and excesses of the age, is frequently distinguished by a grandeur and weight of expression which none of his contemporaries sustained at an equal height. — B.
For names: but call forth thundering Eschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to us,
Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
To live again, to hear thy buskin tread,
And shake a stage; or, when thy socks were on,
Leave thee alone for the comparison
Of all that insolent Greece, or haughty Rome
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show,
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time!
And all the Muses still were in their prime,
When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm
Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm!
Nature herself was proud of his designs,
And joyed to wear the dressing of his lines !
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
As, since, she will vouchsafe no other wit.
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please;
But antiquated and deserted lie,
As they were not of Nature's family.
Yet must I not give Nature all; thy art,
My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part.
For though the poet's matter nature be,
His art doth give the fashion: and, that he
Who casts to write a living line, must 'sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muse's anvil; turn the same,
And himself with it, that he thinks to frame;