The Prologue

To sing of Wars, of Captains, and of Kings,
Of Cities founded, Common-wealths begun,
For my mean pen are too superior things;
Or how they all, or each their dates have run,
Let Poets and Historians set these forth,
My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth.
But when my wond’ring eyes and envious heart
Great Bartas sugar’d lines do but read o’er
Fool I do grudge the Muses did not part
‘Twixt him and me that over-fluent store.
A Bartas can do what a Bartas will
But simple I according to my skill.

From School-boy’s tongue no rhet’ric we expect,
Nor yet a sweet Consort from broken strings,
Nor perfect beauty where’s a main defect:
My foolish, broken, blemished Muse so sings
And this to mend, alas, no Art is able,
‘Cause nature, made it so irreparable.

Nor can I, like that fluent sweet tongu’d Greek
Who lisp’d at first, in future times speak plain.
By Art he gladly found what he did seek
A full requital of his striving pain.
Art can do much, but this maxim’s most sure
A week or wounded brain admits no cure.

Edited by Mollie Brach