Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
Weakness (from Abuses Stript and Whipt)
By George Wither (1588–1667)
THIS in defence of poesie to say
I am compelled because that of this day
Weakness and ignorance have wronged it sore;
But what need any man therein speak more
Than divine Sidney hath already done?        5
For whom, though he deceased ere I begun,
I have oft sighed, and bewailed my fate,
That brought me forth so many years too late
To view that worthy; and now think not you
O Daniel, Drayton, Johnson, Chapman, how        10
I long to see you with your fellow peers,
Sylvester matchless, glory of these years;
I hitherto have only heard your fames,
And know you yet but by your works and names:
The little time I on the earth have spent        15
Would not allow me any more content:
I long to know you better, that ’s the truth,
I am in hope you ’ll not disdain my youth:
For know you, Muses’ darlings, I’ll not crave
A fellowship amongst you for to have.        20
Oh, no; for though my ever willing heart
Have vowed to love and praise you and your art,
And though that I your style do now assume,
I do not, nor I will not so presume;
I claim not that too worthy name of Poet;        25
It is not yet deserved by me, I know it;
Grant me I may but on your Muses tend,
And be enrolled their servant or their friend;
And if desert hereafter worthy make me,
Then for a fellow, if it please you, take me.        30

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