A fit of rhyme against rhyme

by Ben Jonson

Rhyme, the rack of finest wits,
That expresseth but by fits
            True conceit,
Spoiling senses of their treasure,
Cozening judgment with a measure,
            But false weight ;
Wresting words from their true calling,
Propping verse for fear of falling
            To the ground ;
Jointing syllabes, drowning letters,
Fast'ning vowels as with fetters
            They were bound !
Soon as lazy thou wert known,
All good poetry hence was flown,
            And are banished.
For a thousand years together
All Parnassus' green did wither,
            And wit vanished.
Pegasus did fly away,
At the wells no Muse did stay,
            But bewailed
So to see the fountain dry,
And Apollo's music die,
            All light failed !
Starveling rhymes did fill the stage ;
Not a poet in an age
            Worth crowning ;
Not a work deserving bays,
Not a line deserving praise,
            Pallas frowning ;
Greek was free from rhyme's infection,
Happy Greek by this protection
            Was not spoiled.
Whilst the Latin, queen of tongues,
Is not yet free from rhyme's wrongs,
            But rests foiled.
Scarce the hill again doth flourish,
Scarce the world a wit doth nourish
            To restore
Phoebus to his crown again,
And the Muses to their brain,
            As before.
Vulgar languages that want
Words and sweetness, and be scant
            Of true measure,
Tyrant rhyme hath so abusëd,
That they long since have refusëd
            Other cęsure.
He that first invented thee,
May his joints tormented be,
            Cramped forever.
Still may syllabes jar with time,
Still may reason war with rhyme,
            Resting never.
May his sense when it would meet
The cold tumor in his feet,
            Grow unsounder ;
And his title be long fool,
That in rearing such a school
            Was the founder.

Poetry of the English Renaissance 1509-1660.
J. William Hebel and Hoyt H. Hudson, Eds.
New York: F. S. Crofts & Co., 1941. 505-506.

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