Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VISION OF BEN JONSON, ON MUSES OF HIS FRIEND M. DRAYTON, by BEN JONSON



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VISION OF BEN JONSON, ON MUSES OF HIS FRIEND M. DRAYTON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: It hath been questioned, michael, if I be
Last Line: If I can be a friend, and friend to thee.
Subject(s): Drayton, Michael (1563-1631)


It hath been questioned, Michael, if I be
A friend at all; or, if at all, to thee:
Because, who make the question, have not seen
Those ambling visits, pass in verse, between
Thy muse, and mine, as they expect. 'Tis true:
You have not writ to me, nor I to you;
And, though I now begin, 'tis not to rub
Hanch against hanch, or raise a rhyming club
About the town: this reckoning I will pay,
Without conferring symbols. This is my day.
It was no dream! I was awake, and saw!
Lend me thy voice, O Fame, that I may draw
Wonder to truth, and have my vision hurled,
Hot from thy trumpet, round about the world.
I saw a beauty from the sea to rise,
That all earth looked on; and that earth, all eyes!
It cast a beam as when the cheerful sun
Is fair got up, and day some hours begun,
And filled an orb as circular, as heaven!
The orb was cut forth into regions seven,
And those so sweet, and well-proportioned parts,
As it had been the circle of the arts!
When, by thy bright Ideas standing by,
I found it pure, and perfect poesy,
There read I, straight, thy learned Legends three,
Heard the soft airs, between our swains and thee,
Which made me think, the old Theocritus,
Or rural Virgil come, to pipe to us!
But then, thy epistolar Heroic Songs,
Their loves, their quarrels, jealousies, and wrongs,
Did all so strike me, as I cried, who can
With us be called, the Naso, but this man?
And looking up, I saw Minerva's fowl,
Perched overhead, the wise Athenian Owl:
I thought thee then our Orpheus, that wouldst try
Like him, to make the air, one volary:
And I had styled thee, Orpheus, but before
My lips could form the voice, I heard that roar,
And rouse, the marching of a mighty force,
Drums against drums, the neighing of the horse,
The fights, the cries; and wondering at the jars
I saw, and read, it was thy Barons' Wars!
O, how in those, dost thou instruct these times,
That rebels' actions, are but valiant crimes!
And carried, though with shout, and noise, confess
A wild, and an authorized wickedness!
Say'st thou so, Lucan? But thou scorn'st to stay
Under one title. Thou hast made thy way
And flight about the isle, well near, by this,
In thy admired periegesis,
Or universal circumduction
Of all that read thy Poly-Olbion.
That read it? That are ravished! Such was I
With every song, I swear, and so would die;
But that I hear, again, thy drum to beat
A better cause, and strike the bravest heat
That ever yet did fire the English blood!
Our right in France, if rightly understood:
There, thou art Homer! Pray thee, use the style
Thou hast deserved: and let me read the while
Thy catalogue of ships, exceeding his,
Thy list of aids, and force, for so it is:
The poet's act! And for his country's sake
Brave are the musters, that the muse will make.
And when he ships them where to use their arms,
How do his trumpets breathe! What loud alarms!
Look, how we read the Spartans were inflamed
With bold Tyrtaeus' verse, when thou art named,
So shall our English youth urge on, and cry
An Agincourt, an Agincourt, or die.
This book! It is a catechism to fight,
And will be bought of every lord, and knight,
That can but read; who cannot, may in prose
Get broken pieces, and fight well by those.
The miseries of Margaret the queen
Of tender eyes will more be wept, than seen:
I feel it by mine own, that overflow,
And stop my sight, in every line I go.
But then refreshed, with thy Fairy Court,
I look on Cynthia, and Sirena's sport,
As, on two flowery carpets, that did rise,
And with their grassy green restored mine eyes.
Yet give me leave, to wonder at the birth
Of thy strange Moon Calf, both thy strain of mirth,
And gossip-got acquaintance, as, to us
Thou hadst brought Lapland, or old Cobalus,
Empusa, Lamia, or some monster, more
Than Afric knew, or the full Grecian store!
I gratulate it to thee, and thy ends,
To all thy virtuous, and well-chosen friends,
Only my loss is, that I am not there:
And, till I worthy am to wish I were,
I call the world, that envies me, to see
If I can be a friend, and friend to thee.





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