Gives not more gold than they give dross to it;
Who not content, like felons, to purloin,
Add treason to it, and debase the coin.
But whither am I stray’d? I need not raise
Trophies to thee from other men’s dispraise; 20
Nor is thy fame on lesser ruins built,
Nor needs thy juster title the foul guilt
Of eastern kings, who, to secure their reign,
Must have their brothers, sons, and kindred slain.
Then was wit’s empire at the fatal height,
When labouring and sinking with its weight,
From thence a thousand lesser poets sprung,
Like petty princes from the fall of Rome;
When Jonson, Shakespeare, and thyself, did sit,
And sway’d in the triumvirate of wit. 30
Yet what from Jonson’s oil and sweat did flow,
Or what more easy Nature did bestow
On Shakespeare’s gentler Muse, in thee full grown
Their graces both appear, yet so that none
Can say, Here nature ends, and art begins;
But mix’d like th’elements, and born like twins,
So interwove, so like, so much the same,
None this mere nature, that mere art can name:
’Twas this the ancients meant; nature and skill
Are the two tops of their Parnassus’ hill. 40
Such is our pride, our folly, or our fate,
That few but such as cannot write, translate.
But what in them is want of art or voice,
In thee is either modesty or choice.
While this great piece, restored by thee, doth stand
Free from the blemish of an artless hand,
Secure of fame, thou justly dost esteem
Less honour to create than to redeem.
Nor ought a genius less than his that writ 9
Attempt translation; for transplanted wit
All the defects of air and soil doth share,
And colder brains like colder climates are:
In vain they toil, since nothing can beget
A vital spirit but a vital heat.
That servile path thou nobly dost decline
Of tracing word by word, and line by line.
Those are the labour’d births of slavish brains,
Not the effect of poetry, but pains;
Cheap vulgar arts, whose narrowness affords
No flight for thoughts, but poorly sticks at words. 20
A new and nobler way thou dost pursue
To make translations and translators too.
They but preserve the ashes, thou the flame,
True to his sense, but truer to his fame:
Fording his current, where thou find’st it low,
Let’st in thine own to make it rise and flow;
Wisely restoring whatsoever grace
It lost by change of times, or tongues, or place.
Nor fetter’d to his numbers and his times,
Betray’st his music to unhappy rhymes. 30
Nor are the nerves of his compacted strength