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To My Most Dearly-loved Friend Henery Reynolds Esquire, of Poets & Poesy
by [?]

My dearly loved friend how oft have we,
In winter evenings (meaning to be free,)
To some well-chosen place used to retire;
And there with moderate meat, and wine, and fire,
Have past the hours contentedly with chat,
Now talk of this, and then discours’d of that,
Spoke our own verses ‘twixt ourselves, if not
Other mens lines, which we by chance had got,
Or some Stage pieces famous long before,
Of which your happy memory had store;
And I remember you much pleased were,
Of those who lived long ago to hear,
As well as of those, of these latter times,
Who have enriched our language with their rhymes,
And in succession, how still up they grew,
Which is the subject, that I now pursue;
For from my cradle, (you must know that) I,
Was still inclin’d to noble Poesy,
And when that once Pueriles I had read,
And newly had my Cato construed,
In my small self I greatly marvell’d then,
Amongst all other, what strange kind of men
These Poets were; And pleased with the name,
To my mild Tutor merrily I came,
(For I was then a proper goodly page,
Much like a Pigmy, scarce ten years of age)
Clasping my slender arms about his thigh.
O my dear master! cannot you (quoth I)
Make me a Poet, do it if you can,
And you shall see, I’ll quickly be a man,
Who me thus answered smiling, boy quoth he,
If you’ll not play the wag, but I may see
You ply your learning, I will shortly read
Some Poets to you; Phoebus be my speed,
Too’t hard went I, when shortly he began,
And first read to me honest Mantuan,
Then Virgils Eclogues, being entred thus,
Me thought I straight had mounted Pegasus,
And in his full Career could make him stop,
And bound upon Parnassus by-cliffed top.
I scorned your ballet then though it were done
And had for Finis, William Elderton.
But soft, in sporting with this childish jest,
I from my subject haue too long digressed,
Then to the matter that we took in hand,
Jove and Apollo for the Muses stand.

Then noble Chaucer, in those former times,
The first enrich’d our English with his ryhmes,
And was the first of ours, that ever brake,
Into the Muses treasure, and first spake
In weighty numbers, delving in the Mine
Of perfect knowledge, which he could refine,
And coin for current, and as much as then
The English language could express to men,
He made it do; and by his wondrous skill,
Gave us much light from his abundant quill.
And honest Gower, who in respect of him,
Had only sipt at Aganippas brim,
And though in years this last was him before,
Yet fell he far short of the others store.

When after those, four ages very near,
They with the Muses which conuersed, were
That Princely Surrey, early in the time
Of the Eight Henry, who was then the prime
Englands noble youth; with him there came