A Skeltoniad

A poem by Michael Drayton

The Muse should be sprightly,
Yet not handling lightly
Things graue; as much loath,
Things that be slight, to cloath
Curiously: To retayne
The Comelinesse in meane,
Is true Knowledge and Wit.
Not me forc'd Rage doth fit,
That I thereto should lacke
Tabacco, or need Sacke,
Which to the colder Braine
Is the true Hyppocrene;
Nor did I euer care
For great Fooles, nor them spare.
Vertue, though neglected,
Is not so deiected,
As vilely to descend
To low Basenesse their end;
Neyther each ryming Slaue
Deserues the Name to haue
Of Poet: so the Rabble
Of Fooles, for the Table,
That haue their Iests by Heart,
As an Actor his Part,
Might assume them Chayres
Amongst the Muses Heyres.
Parnassus is not clome
By euery such Mome;
Vp whose steep side who swerues,
It behoues t' haue strong Nerues:
My Resolution such,
How well, and not how much
To write, thus doe I fare,
Like some few good that care
(The euill sort among)
How well to liue, and not how long.

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