The Scourge of Villainy

(Excerpt: Proemium in Librum Tertium)

Original Text: 
John Marston, The Scourge of Villanie. Three bookes of satyres (London: J. R[oberts]., sold by J. Buzbie, 1598). STC 17485.
2I strive to scourge polluting beastliness;
6No nymph, no female angel, to infuse
7A sprightly wit to raise my flagging wings,
8And teach me tune these harsh discordant strings.
9I crave no sirens of our halcyon times,
10To grace the accents of my rough-hew'd rhymes;
11But grim Reproof, stern Hate of Villainy,
12Inspire and guide a Satire's poesy.
13Fair Detestation of foul odious sin,
14In which our swinish times lie wallowing,
15Be thou my conduct and my Genius,
16My wits-inciting sweet-breath'd Zephyrus.
17O that a Satire's hand had force to pluck
18Some floodgate up, to purge the world from muck!
20To purge this Augean oxstall from foul sin!
21Well, I will try; awake, Impurity,
22And view the veil drawn from thy villainy!


1] This is from three books of satires, first published in 1598, followed by a second edition in 1599. Back to Line
3] Delian deity: Apollo. Back to Line
4] Offspring of Mnemosyne: the Muses. Back to Line
5] pray in: invoke.
Castalian: the fountain of Castalia, on the slopes of Parnassus, was sacred to Apollo and the Muses. Back to Line
19] An allusion to the sixth labour of Hercules. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.257; RPO 1996-2000.