Sonnets on English Dramatic Poets (1590-1650): The Many

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

I.

Greene, garlanded with February’s few flowers,
Ere March came in with Marlowe’s rapturous rage:
Peele, from whose hand the sweet white locks of age
Took the mild chaplet woven of honoured hours:
Nash, laughing hard: Lodge, flushed from lyric bowers:
And Lilly, a goldfinch in a twisted cage
Fed by some gay great lady’s pettish page
Till short sweet songs gush clear like short spring showers
Kid, whose grim sport still gambolled over graves:
And Chettle, in whose fresh funereal verse
Weeps Marian yet on Robin’s wildwood hearse:
Cooke, whose light boat of song one soft breath saves,
Sighed from a maiden’s amorous mouth averse:
Live likewise ye: Time takes not you for slaves.



II.

Haughton, whose mirth gave woman all her will:
Field, bright and loud with laughing flower and bird
And keen alternate notes of laud and gird:
Barnes, darkening once with Borgia’s deeds the quill
Which tuned the passion of Parthenophil:
Blithe burly Porter, broad and bold of word:
Wilkins, a voice with strenuous pity stirred:
Turk Mason: Brewer, whose tongue drops honey still
Rough Rowley, handling song with Esau’s hand:
Light Nabbes: lean Sharpham, rank and raw by turns,
But fragrant with a forethought once of Burns:
Soft Davenport, sad-robed, but blithe and bland:
Brome, gipsy-led across the woodland ferns:
Praise be with all, and place among our band.

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