To Ben Jonson

Original Text: 
Thomas Carew, Poems (J. D. for T. Walkley, 1640). STC 4620.
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
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,
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
49The wiser world doth greater thee confess
50Than all men else, than thyself only less.

Notes

18] the custom of dividing a man's property equally among his sons. Back to Line
31] Goodwin: the notoriously dangerous Goodwin sands, off the coast of Kent. Back to Line
48] verge: jurisdiction. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1640
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.223-24.
Form: