The Scourge of Villainy
By John Marston

To Detraction.        

Foul canker of fair virtuous action,
Vile blaster of the freshest blooms on earth,
Envy's abhorrëd child, Detraction,
I here expose to thy all-tainting breath
    The issue of my brain; snarl, rail, bark, bite,
    Know that my spirit scorns Detraction's spite.

Know that the genius which attendeth on
And guides my powers intellectual,
Holds in all vile repute Detractïon;
My soul, an essence metaphysical
    That in the basest sort scorns critics' rage,
    Because he knows his sacred parentage.

My spirit is not huffed up with fat fume
Of slimy ale, nor Bacchus' heating grape.
My mind disdains the dungy muddy scum
Of abject thoughts, and envy's raging hate.
    True judgment slight regards opinïon;
    A sprightly wit disdains Detractïon.

A partial praise shall never elevate
My settled censure of mine own esteem.
A cankered verdict of malignant hate
Shall ne'er provoke me worse myself to deem.
    Spite of despite and rancor's villainy,
    I am myself, so is my poesy.

Poetry of the English Renaissance 1509-1660.
J. William Hebel and Hoyt H. Hudson, eds.
New York: F.S. Crofts & Co., 1941. 366-7.


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