A FIT OF RHYME AGAINST RHYME
by: Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
- HYME, the
rack of finest wits,
- That expresseth but with fits
- True conceit;
- Spoiling senses of their treasure,
- Cozening judgment with a measure,
- But false weight;
- Wresting words from their true calling,
- Propping verse, for fear of falling
- To the ground;
- Jointing syllabes, drowning letters,
- Fast'ning vowels, as with fetters
- They were bound!
- Soon as lazy thou wert known,
- All good poetry hence was flown,
- And are banished.
- For a thousand years together,
- All Parnassus' green did wither,
- And wit vanished.
- Pegasus did fly away;
- At the wells no Muse did stay,
- But bewailed.
- So to see the fountain dry,
- And Apollo's music die,
- All light failed.
- Starveling rhymes did fill the stage;
- Not a poet in an age,
- Worth crowning;
- Not a work deserving bays,
- Nor a line deserving praise,
- Pallas frowning.
- Greek was free from rhyme's infection,
- Happy Greek, by this protection,
- Was not spoiled.
- Whilst the Latin, queen of tongues,
- Is not yet free from rhyme's wrongs,
- But rests foiled.
- Scarce the hill again doth flourish,
- Scarce the world a wit doth nourish,
- To restore
- Phoebus to his crown again,
- And the Muses to their brain,
- As before.
- Vulgar languages, that want
- Words and sweetness, and be scant
- Of true measure,
- Tyrant rhyme hath so abusèd,
- That they long since have refusèd
- Other caesure.
- He that first invented thee,
- May his joints tormented be,
- Cramped forever;
- Still may syllabes jar with time,
- Still may reason war with rhyme,
- Resting never.
- May his sense, when it would meet
- The cold tumour in his feet,
- Grow unsounder;
- And his title be long fool,
- That in rearing such a school
- Was the founder.
POEMS BY BEN JONSON
"A Fit of Rhyme Against Rhyme"
is reprinted from Underwoods (1640).