Perspicacious and Prescient – Samuel Daniel

April 15, 2007 at 5:34 pm | Posted in 16C, Delia, Jon Kamholtz, literature, poetry, Samuel Daniel, sonnet | Leave a comment

I read this poem during my second year at college not realising that one day I would be in India and reminded again of this amazing 16C poet.

Musophilus (Containing A General Defence Of All Learning)

Power above powers, O heavenly eloquence,
That with the strong rein of commanding words
Dost manage, guide, and master th’ eminence
Of men’s affections more than all their swords:
Shall we not offer to thy excellence
The richest treasure that our wit affords?
Thou that canst do much more with one poor pen
Than all the powers of princes can effect,
And draw, divert, dispose, and fashion men
Better than force or rigour can direct:
Should we this ornament of glory then,
As th’ unmaterial fruits of shades, neglect?
Or should we, careless, come behind the rest
In power of words, that go before in worth?
Whenas our accents, equal to the best,
Is able greater wonders to bring forth;
When all that ever hotter spirits express’d,
Comes better’d by the patience of the north.
And who in time knows whither we may vent
The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores
This gain of our best glory shall be sent
T’ enrich unknowing nations with our stores?
What worlds in th’ yet unformed occident
May come refin’d with th’ accents that are ours?
Or who can tell for what great work in hand
The greatness of our style is now ordain’d?
What powers it shall bring in, what spirits command,
What thoughts let out, what humours keep restrain’d,
What mischief it may powerfully withstand,
And what fair ends may thereby be attain’d?

I should be offended by the presumption. After all, Indian culture predates and surpasses the British variety by a good five thousand years! But, in the modern period we have learned a lot from the Brits, both good and bad. As far as both politics and ethics go, India knows what not to do and be. So, despite the codescension, hats off to Daniel and his enthusiasm for spreading his variety of language and learning!

Three more examples of his work are further down in the sidebar.

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