Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
Poets and Their Theft
By Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1624?–1674)
 
AS 1 birds to hatch their young do sit in spring,
The ages do their broods of poets bring,
Who to the world in verse do sweetly sing.
 
Their notes great Nature set, not Art so taught:
For fancies in the brain by Nature wrought        5
Are best: what Imitation makes are nought:
 
For though they sing as well as well may be,
And make their notes of what they learn agree,
Yet he that teaches still hath mastery:
 
And ought to have the crown of praise and fame,        10
In the long roll of Time to write his name—
And, those that steal it out, but win the blame.
 
There’s none should places have in Fame’s high court,
But those who first do win Invention’s fort,
Not messengers—that only make report.        15
 
To messengers reward of thanks are due
For their great pains to bring their message true,
But not the honour of invention new.
 
Many there are that suits will make to wear,
Of several patches stolen here and there,        20
That to the world they gallants may appear.
 
And the poor vulgar, who but little know,
Do reverence all that makes a glistering show,
Examining not the same how they came to.
 
Then do they call their friends and all their kin;        25
They factions make, the ignorant to win,
And with their help into Fame’s court get in.
 
Note 1. From the Address to poets, in the preface to Fancies, The Several Keyes of Nature, which unlock her several Cabinets, in the Duchess of Newcastle’s Poems and Fancies, 1653. [back]
 
 
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