To His Learned Friend, Mr. Ja. Shirley, On His Elegant POEMS

Friend, in this dearth of art, when but to write
Or think in verse, is to be destroy'd quite;
When sergeants too implacable are set
To fill the compters up with wit and debt;
Nor any hope of rescue but from those
Who would distrust their creed if't were not prose;
I wonder at the influence of thy pen,
That could engage such generous knowing men
(Warm'd with thy flame) so boldly to advance
'Gainst the prevailing monster, Ignorance.
Sure, this so fair return of gratitude
To dare thus in thy cause, must needs conclude
Thy elegant expressions (while the scene
Obey'd thy powerful empire) are not clean
Obliterated, when thy all-charming wit
Secures so firm allegiance unto it.
'Tis wisely done, thus to erect a shrine
T'eternize their own names as well as thine.
I envy not their fate; let it suffice
They deck thine altar; but the sacrifice
Is my fix'd heart, devoted to thy worth,
Which all their labour'd lines can ne'er set forth.
Best lapidaries oftentimes do set
The fairest diamonds in a foil of jet.
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