Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
To Detraction
By John Marston (1575?–1634)
FOUL canker of fair virtuous action,
Vile blaster of the freshest blooms on earth,
Envy’s abhorred child, Detraction,
I here expose to thy all-tainting breath
    The issue of my brain; snarl, rail, bark, bite,        5
    Know that my spirit scorns Detraction’s spite.
Know that the Genius, which attendeth on
And guides my powers intellectual,
Holds in all vile repute Detraction.
My soul—an essence metaphysical,        10
    That in the basest sort scorns critics’ rage
    Because he knows his sacred parentage—
My spirit is not puff’d up with fat fume
Of slimy ale, nor Bacchus’ heating grape;
My mind disdains the dungy muddy scum        15
Of abject thoughts and Envy’s raging hate.
    ‘True judgment slight regards Opinion,
    A sprightly wit disdains Detraction.’
A partial praise shall never elevate
My settled censure 1 of my own esteem;        20
A canker’d verdict of malignant hate
Shall ne’er provoke me, worse myself to deem.
    Spite of despite, and rancour’s villany,
    I am myself, so is my poesy.
Note 1. judgment. [back]

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