Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Not Peer Reviewed

Prefatory Materials (Folio 1, 1664)

On worthy Mr. SHAKESPEARE,
and his Poems.

AMind reflecting ages past, whose clear
And equal surface can make things appear
Distant a Thousand years, and represent
Them in their lively colours just extent.
To out-run hasty Time, retrive the Fates,
Rowle back the Heavens, blow ope the Iron Gates
Of Death and Lethe, where (confused) lie
Great heaps of ruinous Mortality.
In that deep duskie dungeon of discern
A Royal Ghost from Churles; By art to learn
The Physiognomie of shades, and give
Them suddain birth, wondring how oft they live.
What story coldly tells, what Poets fain
At second hand, and picture without brain
Senselesse and soulelesse shows. To give a Stage
(Ample and true with life) voice, action, age,
As Plato's year, and new Scene of the world
Them unto us, or us to them had hurl'd.
To raise our ancient Soveraignes from their Herse
Make Kings his Subjects, by exchanging verse
Enlive their pale trunks, that the present age
Joyes in their joy, and trembles at their rage:
Yet so to temper passion, that our ears
Take pleasure in their pain; And eyes in tears
Both weep and smile, fearful at plots so sad,