A Sonnet, To The Noble Lady, The Lady Mary Wroth

I that have been a lover, and could show it,
  Though not in these, in rhymes not wholly dumb,
  Since I exscribe your sonnets, am become
A better lover, and much better poet.
Nor is my Muse, or I ashamed to owe it
  To those true numerous graces; whereof some
  But charm the senses, others overcome
Both brains and hearts; and mine now best do know it:
For in your verse all Cupid's armory,
  His flames, his shafts, his quiver, and his bow,
  His very eyes are yours to overthrow.
But then his mother's sweets you so apply,
  Her joys, her smiles, her loves, as readers take
  For Venus' ceston, every line you make.

Poor POET-APE, that would be thought our chief,
Whose works are e'en the frippery of wit,
From brokage is become so bold a thief,
As we, the robbed, leave rage, and pity it.
At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
Buy the reversion of old plays; now grown
To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,
He takes up all, makes each man's wit his own.
And, told of this, he slights it. Tut, such crimes
The sluggish gaping auditor devours;
He marks not whose 'twas first: and after-times
May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
Fool, as if half eyes will not know a fleece
From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece!

A Fit Of Rhyme Against Rhyme

Rhyme, the rack of finest wits,
That expresseth but by fits
True conceit,
Spoiling senses of their treasure,
Cozening judgment with a measure,
But false weight;
Wresting words from their true calling,
Propping verse for fear of falling
To the ground;
Jointing syllabes, drowning letters,
Fast'ning vowels as with fetters
They were bound!
Soon as lazy thou wert known,
All good poetry hence was flown,
And art banish'd.
For a thousand years together
All Parnassus' green did wither,
And wit vanish'd.
Pegasus did fly away,
At the wells no Muse did stay,
But bewail'd
So to see the fountain dry,
And Apollo's music die,
All light failed!
Starveling rhymes did fill the stage;
Not a poet in an age
Worth crowning;
Not a work deserving bays,
Not a line deserving praise,
Pallas frowning;
Greek was free from rhyme's infection,
Happy Greek by this protection
Was not spoiled.
Whilst the Latin, queen of tongues,
Is not yet free from rhyme's wrongs,
But rests foiled.
Scarce the hill again doth flourish,
Scarce the world a wit doth nourish
To restore
Phœbus to his crown again,
And the Muses to their brain,
As before.
Vulgar languages that want
Words and sweetness, and be scant
Of true measure,
Tyrant rhyme hath so abused,
That they long since have refused
Other cæsure.
He that first invented thee,
May his joints tormented be,
Cramp'd forever.
Still may syllabes jar with time,
Still may reason war with rhyme,
Resting never.
May his sense when it would meet
The cold tumor in his feet,
Grow unsounder;
And his title be long fool,
That in rearing such a school
Was the founder.

Xii: Epistle To Elizabeth Countesse Of Rutland


VVhil'st that, for which all vertue now is sold,
And almost every vice, almightie gold,
That which, to boote with hell, is thought worth heaven,
And for it, life, conscience, yea soules are given,
Toyles, by grave custome, up and downe the Court,
To every squire, or groome, that will report
Well, or ill, only, all the following yeere,
Just to the waight their this dayes-presents beare;
While it makes huishers serviceable men,
And some one apteth to be trusted, then,
Though never after; whiles it gaynes the voyce
Of some grand peere, whose ayre-doth make rejoyce
The foole that gave it; who will want, and weepe,
When his proud patrons favours are asleepe;
While thus it buyes great grace, and hunts poore fame;
Runs betweene man, and man, 'tweene, dame, and dame;
Solders crackt friendship; makes love last a day;
Or perhaps lesse: whil'st gold beares all this sway,
I, that have none (to send you) send you verse.
A present which (if elder Writs reherse
The truth of times) was once of more esteeme,
Than this, our guilt, nor golden age can deeme,
When gold was made no weapon to cut throats,
Or put to flight Astrea, when her ingots
Were yet unfound, and better plac'd in earth,
Than, here, to give pride fame, and peasants birth.
But let this drosse carry: what price it will
With noble ignorants, and let them still,
Turne, upon scorned verse, their quarter-face:
With you, I know, my offring will finde grace.
For what a sinne 'gainst your great fathers spirit,
Were it to think, that you should not inherit
His love unto the Muses, when his skill
Almost you have, or may have, when you will?
Wherein wise Nature you a dowrie gave,
Worth an estate, treble to that you have.
Beauty, I know, is good, and blood is more;
Riches thought most: But, Madame, think what store
The world hath seene, which all these had in trust,
And now lye lost in their forgotten dust.
It is the Muse alone, can raise to heaven,
And, at her strong armes end, hold up, and even,
The soules, she loves. Those other glorious notes,
Inscrib'd in touch or marble, or the cotes
Painted, or carv'd upon our great-mens tombs,
Or in their windowes; doe but prove the wombs,
That bred them, graves: when they were borne, they dy'd,
That had no Muse to make their fame abide.
How many equall with the Argive Queene,
Have beauty knowne, yet none so famous seene?
Achilles was not first, that valiant was,
Or, in an armies head, that lockt in brasse,
Gave killing strokes. There were brave men, before
Ajax, or Idomen, or all the store,
That Homer brought to Troy; yet none so live:
Because they lack'd the sacred pen, could give
Like life unto 'hem. Who heav'd Hercules
Unto the starrs? or the Tyndarides?
Who placed Jasons Argo in the skie?
Or set bright Ariadnes crowne so high?
Who made a lampe of Berenices hayre?
Or lifted Cassiopea in her chayre?
But only Poets, rapt with rage divine?
And such, or my hopes faile, shall make you shine.
You, and that other starre; that purest light,
Of all Lucina's traine; Lucy the bright.
Than which, a nobler heaven it selfe knowes not.
Who, though shee have a better Verser got,
(Or Poet, in the Court account) than I,
And, who doth me (though I not him) envy,
Yet for the timely favours shee hath done,
To my lesse sanguine Muse, wherein she hath wonne
My gratefull soule, the subject of her powers,
I have already us'd some happy houres,
To her remembrance; which when time shall bring
To curious light, to notes, I then shall sing,
Will prove old Orpheus Act no rule to be:
For I shall move stocks, stones, no lesse than he.
Then all, that have but done my Muse least grace,
Shall thronging come, and boast the happy place
They hold in my strange poems, which, as yet,
Had not their forme touch'd by an English wit.
There like a rich, and golden Pyramede,
Borne up by statues, shall I roare your head,
Above your under-carved ornaments,
And show, how, to the life, my soule presents
Your forme imprest there: not with tickling rimes,
Or Common-places, filch'd, that take these times,
But high, and noble matter; such as flies
From braines entranc'd, and fill'd with extasies;
Moods, which the god-like Sydney oft did prove,
And your brave friend, and mine so well did love.
Who, wheresoere he be ---