Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Fate of Ancient Authors

John Mennes (1599-1671), "To a friend upon a journey to Epsam Well," Musarum Deliciae: or, The Muses Recreation. Conteining Severall Pieces of Poetique Wit. The second Edition. By Sr J.M. and Ja: S. (London: Henry Herringman, 1656), pp. 3-7 (lines 30-57 on pp. 4-5):
Close by the Well, you may discerne        30
Small shrubs of Eglantine and Fern,
Which shew the businesse of the place;
For here old Ops her upper face
Is yellow, not with heat of summer,
But safroniz'd with mortall scumber.        35
But then the pity to behold
Those antient Authors, which of old
Wrote down for us, Philosophy,
Physick, Music, and Poetry,
Now to no other purpose tend,        40
But to defend the fingers end.
Here lyes Romes Naso torn and rent,
New reeking from the Fundament;
Galens old rules could not suffice,
Nor yet Hippocrates the wise.        45
Not teaching, how to clense, can doe,
Themselves must come and wipe it too.
Here did lye Virgil, there lay Horace,
Which newly had wip'd his, or her Arse.
Anacreon reeled too and fro,        50
Vex'd, that they us'd his papers so.
And Tully with his Offices,
Was forc'd to doe such works as these.
Here lies the Letter of a Lover,
Which piece-meale did the thing discover.        55
Sonnets halfe written would not stay,
But must necessity obey.
33 Ops: Mother Earth
35 scumber: "The dung of a dog or fox. Hence dial., filth, dirt" (Oxford English Dictionary, citing this verse; surprisingly, there is no entry in the dictionary for saffronize, although there is for saffron as a verb = "To dye with saffron; also, to give a saffron-yellow colour to")

Related posts:
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?