24 Though Sol’mon with a thousand wives,
To get a wise successor strives,
But one (and he a fool) survives.
25 Old Rome of children took no care;
They with their friends their beds did share,
Secure t’adopt a hopeful heir.
26 Love drowsy days and stormy nights
Makes; and breaks friendship, whose delights
Feed, but not glut our appetites.
27 Well-chosen friendship, the most noble
Of virtues, all our joys makes double,
And into halves divides our trouble.
28 But when th’unlucky knot we tie,
Care, av’rice, fear, and jealousy
Make friendship languish till it die.
29 The wolf, the lion, and the bear,
When they their prey in pieces tear,
To quarrel with themselves forbear;
30 Yet tim’rous deer, and harmless sheep,
When love into their veins doth creep,
That law of Nature cease to keep.
31 Who, then, can blame the am’rous boy,
Who, the fair Helen to enjoy,
To quench his own, set fire on Troy?
32 Such is the world’s prepost’rous fate,
Amongst all creatures, mortal hate
Love (though immortal) doth create.
33 But love may beasts excuse, for they
Their actions not by reason sway,
But their brute appetites obey.
34 But man’s that savage beast, whose mind
From reason to self-love declined,
Delights to prey upon his kind.
 ‘Whom he bears’: his father and son.
Old Chaucer, like the morning star,
To us discovers day from far;
His light those mists and clouds dissolved,
Which our dark nation long involved:
But he descending to the shades,
Darkness again the age invades.
Next (like Aurora) Spenser rose, 7
Whose purple blush the day foreshows;
The other three with his own fires
Phoebus, the poet’s god, inspires;
By Shakespeare’s, Jonson’s, Fletcher’s lines,
Our stage’s lustre Rome’s outshines:
These poets near our princes sleep,
And in one grave their mansion keep.
They lived to see so many days,
Till time had blasted all their bays:
But cursed be the fatal hour,
That pluck’d the fairest, sweetest flower
That in the Muses’ garden grew,
And amongst wither’d laurels threw! 20
Time, which made them their fame outlive,
To Cowley scarce did ripeness give.
Old mother Wit, and Nature, gave
Shakespeare and Fletcher all they have;
In Spenser, and in Jonson, Art
Of slower Nature got the start;
But both in him so equal are,
None knows which bears the happiest share;
To him no author was unknown,
Yet what he wrote was all his own; 30