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Short poem

Thomas Carew (1595?-by 1640)

To Ben Jonson

              1'Tis true, dear Ben, thy just chastising hand
              2Hath fix'd upon the sotted age a brand
              3To their swoll'n pride and empty scribbling due;
              4It can nor judge, nor write, and yet 'tis true
              5Thy comic muse, from the exalted line
              6Touch'd by thy Alchemist, doth since decline
              7From that her zenith, and foretells a red
              8And blushing evening, when she goes to bed;
              9Yet such as shall outshine the glimmering light
            10With which all stars shall gild the following night.
            11Nor think it much, since all thy eaglets may
            12Endure the sunny trial, if we say
            13This hath the stronger wing, or that doth shine
            14Trick'd up in fairer plumes, since all are thine.
            15Who hath his flock of cackling geese compar'd
            16With thy tun'd choir of swans? or else who dar'd
            17To call thy births deform'd? But if thou bind
            18By city-custom, or by gavelkind,
            19In equal shares thy love on all thy race,
            20We may distinguish of their sex, and place;
            21Though one hand form them, and though one brain strike
            22Souls into all, they are not all alike.
            23Why should the follies then of this dull age
            24Draw from thy pen such an immodest rage
            25As seems to blast thy else-immortal bays,
            26When thine own tongue proclaims thy itch of praise?
            27Such thirst will argue drouth. No, let be hurl'd
            28Upon thy works by the detracting world
            29What malice can suggest; let the rout say,
            30The running sands, that, ere thou make a play,
            31Count the slow minutes, might a Goodwin frame
            32To swallow, when th' hast done, thy shipwreck'd name;
            33Let them the dear expense of oil upbraid,
            34Suck'd by thy watchful lamp, that hath betray'd
            35To theft the blood of martyr'd authors, spilt
            36Into thy ink, whilst thou growest pale with guilt.
            37Repine not at the taper's thrifty waste,
            38That sleeks thy terser poems; nor is haste
            39Praise, but excuse; and if thou overcome
            40A knotty writer, bring the booty home;
            41Nor think it theft if the rich spoils so torn
            42From conquer'd authors be as trophies worn.
            43Let others glut on the extorted praise
            44Of vulgar breath, trust thou to after-days;
            45Thy labour'd works shall live when time devours
            46Th' abortive offspring of their hasty hours.
            47Thou are not of their rank, the quarrel lies
            48Within thine own verge; then let this suffice,
            49The wiser world doth greater thee confess
            50Than all men else, than thyself only less.


18] the custom of dividing a man's property equally among his sons.

31] Goodwin: the notoriously dangerous Goodwin sands, off the coast of Kent.

48] verge: jurisdiction.

Online text copyright © 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Thomas Carew, Poems (J. D. for T. Walkley, 1640). STC 4620.
First publication date: 1640
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 3RP 1.223-24.
Recent editing: 4:2002/2/7

Form: Heroic Couplets

Other poems by Thomas Carew