Containing A General Defence Of All Learning

Original Text: 
Samuel Daniel, The poeticall essayes of Sam. Danyel, Newly corrected and augmented (P. Short for S. Waterson, 1599). STC 6261.
2      That with the strong rein of commanding words
3      Dost manage, guide, and master th' eminence
4      Of men's affections more than all their swords:
5      Shall we not offer to thy excellence
6      The richest treasure that our wit affords?
7      Thou that canst do much more with one poor pen
8      Than all the powers of princes can effect,
9      And draw, divert, dispose, and fashion men
10Better than force or rigour can direct:
11      Should we this ornament of glory then,
12      As th' unmaterial fruits of shades, neglect?
13Or should we, careless, come behind the rest
14      In power of words, that go before in worth?
15      Whenas our accents, equal to the best,
16      Is able greater wonders to bring forth;
17      When all that ever hotter spirits express'd,
18      Comes better'd by the patience of the north.
19And who in time knows whither we may vent
20      The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores
21      This gain of our best glory shall be sent
22      T' enrich unknowing nations with our stores?
23      What worlds in th' yet unformed occident
24      May come refin'd with th' accents that are ours?
25Or who can tell for what great work in hand
26      The greatness of our style is now ordain'd?
27      What powers it shall bring in, what spirits command,
28      What thoughts let out, what humours keep restrain'd,
29      What mischief it may powerfully withstand,
30      And what fair ends may thereby be attain'd?


1] First published in Poetical Essays, 1599; dedicated to Fulke Grenville. The poem of 983 lines is a dialogue of didactic import between Musophilus ("lover of the Muses") and Philocosmus ("lover of the world," i.e., the unlettered man of action). They discuss at length the uses and values of learning and of the arts. Our selection represents part of Musophilus' peroration. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
F. D. Hoeniger
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.126.