Poems by John Fletcher.

To The True Master In His Art, B. Jonson, On His Volpone.

Forgive, thy friends; they would, but cannot praise
Enough the wit, art, language of thy plays.
Forgive thy foes; they will not praise thee: why?
Thy fate hath thought it best, they should envy.
Faith, for thy Fox's sake, forgive, then, those
Who are nor worthy to be friends nor foes;
Or, for their own brave sake, let them be still
Fools at thy mercy, and like what they will.

To His Worthy Friend, Master Ben Jonson, On His Catiline.

He that dares wrong this play, it should appear
Dares utter more than other men dare hear,
That have their wits about 'em: yet such men,
Dear friend, must see your book, and read, and then,
Out of their learnèd ignorance, cry "ill,"
And lay you by, calling Mad Pasquil,
Or Greene's dear Groats-worth, or Tom Coryate,
The new lexicon, with errant pate;
And pick a way, from all these several ends,
And dirty ones, to make their as-wise friends
Believe they are translators. Of this, pity,
There is a great plague hanging o'er the city,
Unless she purge her judgment presently.
But, oh, thou happy man, that must not die
As these things shall, leaving no more behind
But a thin memory, like a passing wind
That blows and is forgotten, ere they are cold!
Thy labours shall out-live thee; and, like gold
Stampt for continuance, shall be current where
There is a sun, a people, or a year.


Come, sorrow, come! bring all thy cries,
All thy laments, and all thy weeping eyes!
Burn out, you living monuments of woe!
Sad sullen griefs, now rise and overflow!
Virtue is dead;
  Oh, cruel fate!
All youth is fled;
  All our laments too late.

Oh, noble youth, to thy ne'er dying name,
Oh, happy youth, to thy still growing fame,
To thy long peace on earth, this sacred knell
Our last loves ring-farewell, farewell, farewell!
Go happy soul, to thy eternal birth!
And press his body lightly, gentle earth!