Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, (A POEM SENT ME BY SIR WILLIAM BURLASE), by BEN JONSON



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(A POEM SENT ME BY SIR WILLIAM BURLASE), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: To paint thy worth, if rightly I did know it
Last Line: To all posterity; I will write burlase.


THE PAINTER TO THE POET

To paint thy worth, if rightly I did know it,
And were but painter half like thee, a poet;
Ben, I would show it:
But in this skill, my unskilful pen will tire,
Thou, and thy worth, will still be found far higher;
And I a liar.
Then, what a painter's here? Or what an eater
Of great attempts? When as his skill's no greater,
And he a cheater?
Then what a poet's here? Whom, by confession
Of all with me, to paint without digression
There's no expression.

My Answer
THE POET TO THE PAINTER
Why? Though I seem of a prodigious waist,
I am not so voluminous, and vast,
But there are lines, wherewith I might be embraced.

'Tis true, as my womb swells, so my back stoops,
And the whole lump grows round, deformed, and droops,
But yet the tun at Heidelberg had hoops.

You were not tied, by any painter's law
To square my circle, I confess; but draw
My superficies: that was all you saw.

Which if in compass of no art it came
To be described by a monogram,
With one great blot, you had formed me as I am.

But whilst you curious were to have it be
An archetype, for all the world to see,
You made it a brave piece, but not like me.

O, had I now your manner, mastery, might,
Your power of handling shadow, air, and sprite,
How I would draw, and take hold, and delight.

But, you are he can paint; I can but write:
A poet hath no more but black and white,
Ne knows he flattering colours, or false light.

Yet when of friendship I would draw the face,
A lettered mind, and a large heart would place
To all posterity; I will write Burlase.





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