Untitled [I know those that are strict]


I know those that are strict and nice about phrase and the placing of words will carp at my book, for I have not set my words in such order as those which write elegant prose. But I must confess ingeniously, my shallow wit could not tell how to order it to the best advantage. Besides, I found it difficult to get so many rhythms as to join the sense of the subject, and by reason I could not attain to both, I rather chose to leave the elegance of words than to obstruct the sense of the matter. For my desire was to make my conceit easy to the understanding, though my words were not so fluent to the ear. Again, they will find fault with the numbers, for I was forced to fewer or more, to bring in the sense of my fancies. All I can say for myself is that poetry consists not so much in number, words, and phrase, as in fancy. Thirdly, they will find fault at the subject, saying it is neither material nor useful for the soul or body. To this I answer, my intention was not to teach arts nor sciences, nor to instruct in divinity, but to pass away idle time, and thought time might be better spent, yet ’tis oft spent worse amongst many in the world.

  1. The poems in this final section are in different orders in the three editions; the final materials below reflect the order present in 1653. In 1664 and 1668, the order is as follows: 1) “The Common Fate of Books”; 2) “Another of the Same”; 3) “Of the Style of this Book”; and 4) “A Poet I Am Neither Born nor Bred”. The first untitled paragraph is not present in 1664 or 1668; the poem about Sir Charles is located at the end of Part IV in 1664 and 1668. Because the Sir Charles poem is about fairies, we have kept it at the end of Part IV, with the other fairy poems, though it also partly belongs among the poems in this section, about poetic process. See also the second section of the Textual and Editorial Introduction on the rearrangement of materials in this conclusion.