From the Portrait prefixed to Wither's "Emblems" (1635)
The Pembroke Booklets
J. R. Tutin
Large Paper Edition, limited to 250 copies
Thou that wouldst find the habit of true passion,
And see a mind attired in perfect strains . . .
Look here on Breton's work.—Ben Jonson.
The praises of poetry have been often sung in ancient and in modern times; strange powers have been ascribed to it of influence over animate and inanimate auditors; its force over fascinated crowds has been acknowledged; but before Wither, no one ever celebrated its power at home, the wealth and the strength which this divine gift confers upon its possessor. Fame, and that too after death, was all which hitherto the poets had promised themselves from this art. It seems to have been left to Wither to discover that poetry was a present possession, as well as a rich reversion, and that the Muse has a promise of both lives,—of this, and of that which was to come.—Charles Lamb.
I feel an envious touch,
And tell thee Swain: that at thy fame I grutch,
Wishing the Art that makes this Poem shine,
And this thy Work (wert not thou wrongèd) mine.
George Wither: To the Author
[of Britannia s Pastorals].